US: Bakery which refused service to lesbian brides caught offering divorce celebration cake

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Undercover reporters contacting an Oregon bakery after it refused service to a lesbian couple found that the owner was willing to provide services to a host of other ‘sinful’ ceremonies – including a divorce party, and a stem cell research celebration.

Aaron Klein, the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, came under investigation by the state’s Attorney General in February after a complaint was filed by a bride-to-be.

The unnamed woman said that Mr Klein was happy to serve her at first, but he changed his mind when he found out that she was getting married to another woman.

Mr Klein later said he refused to serve her because of his Christian beliefs, and told press “I believe I have the liberty to live by my principles.”

Oregon news site the Williamette Week aimed to explore if there were other religious beliefs the bakery would take a stand on, or whether they specifically turned down same-sex wedding jobs.

“We wondered what other requests these cakemakers would decline to honor,” says the Week.

Five reporters called the Sweet Cakes bakery, as well as Fleur Cakes, which also refused to provide cake for a lesbian couple, to see if either would cater to other “occasions frowned upon by some Christians”.

One reporter asked: “My friend is getting divorced and we’d like to throw her a little party to mark the start of her new life. Do you ever write messages on those—we’d want it to say ‘congratulations!’—and how much would it be for a cake that could serve about eight people?”

The Sweet Cakes bakery replied “We can definitely do something like that.”

Other reporters asked for cakes celebrating events such as the birth of a baby outside of marriage, a non-kosher barbecue with meat and shellfish, a solstice party with a pentagram cake, and a party for a “grant for cloning human stem cells”. All were approved by the Sweet Cakes bakery, while Fleur Cakes said yes to the divorcee and the baby.

The Williamette Week said they were surprised by the “inconsistencies” they found.

Mr Klein and his wife and business partner, Melissa, said they could not believe the news site “would even try to entrap a business”. They have reportedly contacted conservative talk show host Lars Larson about the incident.