Remember the Oregon couple that was fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding? It became one of many iconic stories in the past year that showed the progressive war on religious freedom taking place in America. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide, many fear these attacks on freedom of conscience will only escalate. Stu and Pat talked to Aaron Klein, one of the owners of the bakery, on radio this morning about the latest on this story.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it may contain errors:
PAT: Pat and Stu in for Glenn on the Glenn Beck Program. 877-727-BECK. Well, even before the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, we were already having problems with religious freedom. And we were having the -- there was, of course, the wedding cake situation. There was the photographer situation. Who were forced into participating into these weddings. Well, Aaron Klein and Mellissa, his wife, would not participate in a same-sex marriage by baking the cake. Now, they served gay people all the time, but I don't know how many came in. But they had served them. They didn't have a policy of, oh, my gosh, if you're a homosexual, you may not enter our store.
That was not the case.
STU: No. And there is -- there would be a law against that, I think, in Oregon. Which is the law they came after the bakery for. But this is not what they did. They didn't say no gays can come into our store. That's not what happened.
PAT: We have Aaron on the phone with us, joining us after this 135,000-dollar fine was upheld and levied against these guys. It's just one of the most incredible stories that I think I've seen in my lifetime. And, Aaron, welcome to the Glenn Beck Program with Pat and Stu, hi.
AARON: Thank you for having me back.
PAT: So, Aaron, you did serve gay clients. Right? Homosexuals came into your store as far as you know, and you sold them cakes, you sold them stuff?
AARON: Well, quite honestly, I wouldn't know you're a homosexual unless you told me. I'm sure we served many people that were homosexuals. That was never a question to ask.
PAT: Yeah, you didn't have a policy of, hey, I would like a Danish and I would like -- I'd like a birthday cake. And then you wouldn't say, well, excuse me.
STU: Not a gay birthday.
PAT: Are you homosexual? You wouldn't say that.
STU: Okay. Good.
PAT: All right.
STU: That's positive. And I think -- if you -- there are sometimes couples come in. They are amorous. Gay or straight. If a gay couple came into the store holding hands --
PAT: So they're clearly a couple.
STU: Would you have a problem selling them a cupcake out of your bin there?
AARON: No. See, there's where the oddity comes in of the situation. That's exactly what happened with these exact two girls in the past. And we had no problem serving them.
PAT: That's what I thought. Because I thought you knew you had serviced even the same couple before with your products.
AARON: Yeah. Absolutely.
STU: That would have been an interesting addendum to the story.
PAT: I didn't put that as well as I intended. Maybe we just move on.
STU: So 135,000-dollar fine. And you know this is a situation where you guys wanted to, you know -- look, you didn't want to be part of this ceremony. And we in this country over a long period of time have made it a nation in which you can spend your time how you please. If it's not violating someone else's freedom and it's not violating the law, you get to do what you please. Now, I thought for sure, baking and decorating cakes was included in that, but they're telling you it's not.
AARON: Well, they're telling me as a business you surrender your constitutional freedoms. Which, unfortunately, the Supreme Court said that's not the case with Hobby Lobby. Now, in this situation, obviously we were not looking to hurt anybody. We weren't looking to discriminate as the government has put this. But we were looking to live out our faith in our daily lives. And Mr. Avakian has decided that that does not coincide with being in business apparently. So now we're dealing with the situation where an exorbitant amount of damages have been awarded to somebody for simply being told I'm sorry I can't do this. In fact, right now, me speaking to you about this, I'm violating the cease and desist that he has placed on me, a private citizen, in this country in the effect of a gag order. I'm not supposed to tell you what happened because that's in violation of his order.
STU: Because that's kind of really where the case came down. It almost, in a way, the fine wasn't for what you did with the cake, it was the fact that you had the audacity to go on media sources and actually talk about your constitutional rights being taken away.
AARON: Well, no. The final order says that all this $135,000 is specifically for the act of saying, I'm sorry, I can't do your cake.
AARON: However, he did find me guilty of advertising. And, of course, advertising was, hey, that I'm going to stand firm. Oh, my gosh. That I'm going to stand firm. Like, how dare I?
STU: So what was the penalty for your guilt in the world of advertising?
AARON: He said there was no additional fines because it couldn't be proven that the girl suffered anything from it. Now, you have to understand that the judge in this situation, this administrative law judge said that everything I said was First Amendment protected speech. The commissioner decided that, no, it was not. That he could throw the book at me for it.
PAT: Aaron, do you have $135,000 to pay them?
AARON: I did not. The American people have spoken loud and clear. We are looking at some crowd funding that went on. And we actually -- I believe at this point, we may actually have the funds to do that. However, should this money have to go for this purpose? I don't think so. We're going to continue to fight this.
PAT: Good. Good.
STU: Look, I have no faith in the Supreme Court at all at this point. But this needs to go to the Supreme Court. We need to be able to decide whether people are able to do -- whether they're able to bake cakes or not at their own pace.
PAT: Didn't the ruling kind of allude to the fact that you should be able to do these things? That you should -- your religious sensibilities have to be taken into account? Isn't that --
AARON: I thought that was in Kennedy's ruling, as far as I was concerned. That's what Kelly Shackelford, from Liberty Institute said.
PAT: Right. He said that on our show. Was that the one part of that ruling that he was sort of uplifted by was the fact that they did protect religious liberty, supposedly. So you should be in the clear as far as I can tell. I don't even know how they're doing this in Oregon. This is unbelievable. But just to review, you guys -- you guys lost the bakery, right?
AARON: Yeah. The brick-and-mortar has been shut down.
PAT: Yeah. And you're doing something else now that doesn't pay as well. And you'd rather be doing the bakery?
AARON: Well, that's the American dream is running your -- I know Mellissa would rather do the bakery. She enjoyed doing wedding cakes immensely. She enjoyed, you know, just meeting people. I don't think there was a person that walked out of that shop that wasn't her best friend when it was all said and done. But, you know, we want to live the American dream. We want to have the freedom to do that.
The State of Oregon is telling us, you don't have that freedom, as long as I'm in power. That's what this guy is doing. He's ruling out thought and speech and applying his bias to it. And, quite honestly, I believe there's actually federal penal code that goes against what he's done here. We'll look into that. We'll appeal this to an appellate court. We're going to continue to fight this. As I said before, this man will not tell me that I can't speak. He will not tell me that I can't live out my faith. I will continue to fight with every breath I have in me, and he better be aware of that.
STU: That is great. And I don't understand how anyone can think that you don't have that right. I mean, it's your right to speech. It's your right to believe in something. It's a constitutionally protected thing. And it's so clear that -- that, you know -- that freedom of religion is so prominent and such a foundational belief in this country. The idea that you would have to do something that you would disagree with, I just -- I can't -- I can't imagine the Supreme Court would hold that up. Though, at this point, they do a lot of things I can't imagine, including write new words into bills.
PAT: Yeah. Also, Aaron, we heard from our affiliate station in Houston, that there might be some biases on the part of this Avakian. If you're talking about his son and his Facebook postings. Is there any truth to that? Do you know anything about that?
AARON: From what I found out -- I was actually talking on the Michael Berry Show, and what I found out was that, yeah, he's got a son who identifies as homosexual. Again, this is not a situation where the bias he has is something that is unconstitutional. It's not something that is an issue or should be --
PAT: He probably should have recused himself from this.
AARON: Yeah. The office that he holds makes him a judge, jury, and executioner. And you can't have that in any office because everybody has a bias. I mean, you've got a bias. I've got a bias. Just, the office that he holds allows too much leeway for someone to implement that bias.
STU: Now, Aaron, obviously you can tell by this interview that we are on your side and back you on this. But let me give you one sort of, quote, unquote, tough question here.
AARON: All right.
STU: I absolutely back you 100 percent on your right to say I don't want to participate in the ceremony. You should not have to do it. However, have you considered whether you should or not? From the perspective of, as a person who bakes a cake, you probably bake cakes for parties all the time where there's things that you don't agree with that go on. And this particular ceremony, if a gay couple comes in and they -- they get -- they're already married, and they have a party -- you would certainly, I would think, give them the cake then.
The ceremony where the cake is utilized is after they're already married. It's not like they need the cake to get hitched. Have you thought about whether you should have just made the cake? Again, I agree with your right to say no to it. But do you think that maybe you should have just done it?
AARON: No. I still have the same mind-set. The difference is, a birthday. You can celebrate a birthday. There's nothing inherently wrong with a birthday. You can celebrate the birth of a child. A baby shower. You can celebrate all sorts of different things. But once you start to say, let's celebrate something that the Bible calls sin. And then you say, well, I don't want to be a part of that. You can't use your time, your effort, your artistic ability, and help somebody celebrate something that the Bible says is wrong. I don't believe that's right. And being a man of faith and the scripture telling me that we're not supposed to take part in another man's sin. I think that would be inherently wrong to help celebrate something that the Bible calls sinful.
PAT: So if four couple -- you wouldn't bake that either.
AARON: I wouldn't do that either. The Bible says adultery is wrong.
STU: This is just getting fun. So let me ask you another one. We're just playing bakery roulette here. How about this one. A man comes in. Orders your biggest cake. And he says, you know what, sir, I'm going to eat all of this cake. In fact, I'm going to be a glutton today. Would you bake him the cake?
AARON: Would I bake a cake for somebody that wants to do gluttony?
AARON: You know, I -- you have to find where overeating is in the Bible. I mean, if that's the case, every American -- it's a horrible, horrible holiday.
PAT: Yes. And we would have to put Jeffy in prison.
STU: That's a great point.
Aaron, I think -- I'm glad. Because this is an important thing. And I'm glad that someone like you is the face of this right now. Because you're not hateful. You're not saying you don't like people. You're not saying you won't serve people. You're saying you have one specific religious choice that you want to make. And should you be able to do that. And I think it's a really interesting question. I'm glad -- you've been doing this for a while. There's no crazy Facebook posts of you being hateful. There's no pictures of you burning things on the lawns of gay people. You're -- you seem -- at least you come across as a really good person who has a religious choice that you may or may not agree with, but certainly should have the opportunity to exercise it. So I'm happy about that.
AARON: I'm just the average American. I just want to, like I said, live out the American dream. I want to be able to walk in my faith. Live out the American dream. And the Constitution guarantees everybody that right. I mean, if you want to be Buddhist, it allows you to be Buddhist. It doesn't punish you for doing it.
PAT: And I love your resolve. I love the fact that you're not rolling over and playing dead for this. That's fantastic. Thanks for doing that.
AARON: I think that every Christian better get ready for it. Because with the Supreme Court ruling, we're going to have issues.
PAT: Oh, absolutely. So let me ask you this, is the crowd-funding still going on? Can people still help out if they want?
AARON: Yeah, continue to give. Still up and rolling. Like I said, I think we've met our mark at this point. Like I said, I don't know what the future holds. I might end up with extra charges against me for just talking to you right now.
STU: All right. And where do they go to help out?
AARON: There's -- on the Sweet Cakes Facebook page, there's a donation button. Also, the website is continuetogive/helpsweetcakes is what it is.
PAT: All right.
STU: Go to the Sweet Cakes Facebook page is probably the easiest way to go.
PAT: Yeah, thanks a lot, Aaron. We appreciate it. Good luck.
AARON: Not a problem. Not a problem.