Bakery in gay wedding cake case sends gifts to LGBTQ groups

FILE - This Feb. 5, 2013, photo shows Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore. An administrative law judge in April 2015 proposed that the owners of the suburban Portland bakery pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple who were refused service more than two years ago. (Everton Bailey Jr./The Oregonian via AP, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The owners of a Portland-area bakery who were fined for denying service to a same-sex couple have sent cakes and copies of a Christian film to 10 LGBT groups on the West Coast.

Melissa and Aaron Klein, of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told The Oregonian they sent the custom-designed cakes and copies of the movie “Audacity” to the groups as “an expression of love.”

The packages also included $25 restaurant gift cards provided by Ray Comfort, a New Zealand evangelist and the film’s executive producer.

The theme of “Audacity” is that Christians who speak up about their belief that homosexuality is a choice aren’t trying to spread hate or hurt someone, but are doing it to warn people and save them from God’s wrath.

The cakes, which have a red heart on top with ‘We really do love you!’ written across it in frosting, were sent to organizations in California and Nevada.

One of the groups that received a cake Thursday, Equality California, said it considered the package a publicity stunt. The group was planning to invite gay-friendly faith leaders to share the cake, spokesman Jason Howe said.

“I think the Kleins are continuing a false narrative that there’s a conflict between LGBTQ and Christianity,” Howe said. “There’s a mainstream that thinks discriminating against people in places of business is wrong.”

Melissa Klein said the cakes were not meant as a publicity stunt.

“Our purpose is to express our love for them as a Christian,” Klein wrote in an email. “We don’t hate them.”

She said the couple chose to include the movie “Audacity” because it “shows what being a Christian is about. My hope is that they will watch it and maybe just understand our heart.”

Klein said the bakers are planning to send more cakes to other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations.

In July, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in damages for emotional suffering caused when they refused two years ago to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer.

The bakers said their refusal was prompted by religious beliefs. They are appealing the state’s order.

The case has been cited in the national debate over religious freedom and discrimination against gays.

The Kleins closed their Gresham store in 2013 and operate the business from home.

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