Hey remember those poor, persecuted bakers who were forced to pay a huge fine simply for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple?
Well, guess what — it’s not true! I know, I know; you’re shocked to learn that a right-wing talking point turns out not to be true. I mean, who would have guessed that they were being dishonest?
Now that the settlement order has been released, we see that what really happened was this:
The lesbian couple asked for a cake. The bakery refused, cited Bible verses, and treated them terribly. The women then emailed a complaint to the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. The email contained their names and address.
The bakery then went to Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media. They used this attention to promote their good Christian nature by naming the women specifically, giving out their address, and calling them out as evil. Because that’s what Jesus would do, right?
Sure enough, the women started getting death threats and otherwise being attacked when they should have been celebrating their happy marriage. And the bakers didn’t stop — until they found themselves as the subject of protests. Their business suffered as people who are against discrimination refused to do business with them, and they ended up closing. Those poor, poor bigots!
Anyway, in the meantime, the complaint with the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries proceeded. Filing with them is the proper thing to do when a business discriminates against you and is harassing you. After an investigation, the bakers were found to have violated Oregon’s anti-discrimination law.
The fine, however, was not for refusing to bake the cake but for causing such terrible pain and suffering to two women who merely wanted to celebrate their wedding. Had the women filed a civil lawsuit and claimed damages, they might have gotten more.
The bakers are heroes to many conservative Christians who think that people should be able to discriminate based on their religious prejudices. These same Christians look the other way when confronted with the damage these bakers did to these women. Had the bakers merely said “no” and not tried to use the occasion as an opportunity to promote their bigotry, then it is likely we would have never heard about this. They would have gotten a letter from the Bureau of Labor warning them of what the law says, and that would be the end of it.