The United States of America is supposed to be a land of liberty, where individuals are free to live as they want as long as they don’t harm others around them.
Sadly, it looks like that ideal is slowly being twisted into state-enforced conformity: Either you do what others demand, or pay the price.
For Aaron and Melissa Klein, that price was steep – $135,000 to be exact. That’s the penalty they were ordered to pay after they declined at their bakery in Oregon to make a custom cake for a lesbian wedding.
“Laurel Bowman-Cryer and her wife Rachel sued after the Kleins refused to bake a cake for them,” reported Fox News. “Rachel Campos-Duffy reported that the women claimed the incident caused weight gain and was akin to being ‘mentally raped.’”
Yes, the lesbian couple’s hysterical claims of victimhood now include “cake rape” and getting fat. Back in the real world, the court’s order has had a dramatic impact on the Christian small-business owners.
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“It’s definitely been hard on our family. It’s taken a toll on our family,” Melissa Klein said during an interview with Fox.
The husband and wife said they intend to fight the court’s ruling, which has essentially shut down their custom cake business and pushed the family into financial difficulty.
Michael Berry, an attorney from First Liberty Institute who is representing the Klein’s, had sharp words for the court’s decision.
“If you look at the court’s opinion […] one of the the things the court said was, they didn’t think that custom designing and making a custom wedding cake is a form of art,” he said.
“As the ACLU themselves said, freedom of expression for ourselves means we have to allow freedom of expression for others,” Berry continued.
“Aaron and Melissa Klein just want the same basic treatment that everybody else in this country wants and deserves.”
The Fox News reporter asked an obvious question: Could this ruling affect other people, including liberal workers and business owners who might be forced to provide a service that goes against their beliefs?
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That’s when the attorney for the custom bakers perfectly summarized the concerns of so many Americans.
“Punishing people for their religious beliefs is wrong, it’s un-American,” he stated.
“And if you take this court’s opinion and you look at what it truly means for religious liberty, but for freedom of speech and the First Amendment in this country, it absolutely can be extended that far,” Berry continued.
He conclusion summed it up perfectly:
“What about what’s happened to Aaron and Melissa Klein and their family? The fact that this $135,000 penalty has forced them to close their business … That’s harmful, not only to Aaron and Melissa Klein, but really to all Americans. Because that means the government can now force us, under threat of massive penalties, to say things that go against our religious beliefs. And that’s just wrong.”
It’s an extremely good point: What prevents this ruling from being applied to many other areas? Where is the line?
Take a videographer or a web designer, for instance. What happens if an alt-right group tries to hire a liberal to make a promo video for a rally or build a website that the business owner finds completely distasteful? Should those entrepreneurs be forced to do the work, under threat of lawsuit?
Or, how about a Muslim-owned magazine publisher? If somebody pays for an advertisement with a full-page drawing of Muhammad, is the magazine now required to print it?
For all the lip service that the left gives to providing “choices,” progressives instead seem intent on tearing down anybody who dares make a choice that is different from theirs.
There’s no end in sight… and that should trouble Americans who value individual freedom, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.
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