PORTLAND, Ore. (AP/KOIN) – The owners of an Oregon bakery who were fined $135,000 by the state for discriminating against a lesbian couple more than two years ago, is getting help paying that fine. A crowdfunding account has been set up on the Samaritan’s Purse website for Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
Samaritan’s Purse is an evangelical Christian organization run by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. It’s unclear how much has been donated.
Donations were also being accepted on GoFundMe, another crowdfunding website, but that campaign has since been removed. A spokesperson for the website says the campaign involves formal charges, which is a violation of GoFundMe’s terms and conditions.
More than $70,000 had been raised on the GoFundMe site by the time it was taken down.
On Friday, an administrative law judge proposed that the Kleins pay the fine to the couple. The judge, Alan McCullough, ruled in January that Sweet Cakes by Melissa discriminated against Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.
The bakers cited their religious beliefs. The case is one that has been cited in the national debate over religious freedom and discrimination against gays.
The proposed order dealt with the award for emotional suffering.
The sides will review the proposal and have the chance to file exceptions before Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issues a final order.
Bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein closed their Gresham store in 2013 and operate the business out of their home.