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Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

Case Seeking Religious Exemptions from LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Laws

Key Date: January 9, 2020
Status: Pending before Oregon Intermedia Court of Appeals
Legal Team: Lambda Legal
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

Klein v. Oregon BLI Case Overview:

Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries concerns a business owner in Oregon who denied service to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation, seeking a religious exemption to a longstanding non-discrimination law in Oregon prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Latest in the Case:

In June 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court took action in a cert. petition in the case, remanding it back to the lower court. The Oregon Intermedia Court of Appeals is now considering it.

Case History:

Every lower court that has heard the case has affirmed that the bakery is in no way entitled to a religious exemption from the Oregon nondiscrimination law – and that businesses open to the public must be open to all. Here’s an overview of key dates and rulings in Klein:

  • 2013: A same-sex couple denied service by Sweet Cakes by Melissa files a complaint with the Bureau of Labor & Industries, alleging that the business discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation, in violation of Oregon law.
  • 2015: The Bureau of Labor & Industries, enforcing Oregon’s nondiscrimination law, rules that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated the law and imposed a hefty fine. The business appeals to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
  • December 28, 2017: The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds the Bureau’s decision, writing, “The Kleins seek an exemption based on their sincere religious opposition to same-sex marriage; but those with sincere religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities, or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption.” The business seeks review from the Oregon Supreme Court.
  • June 22, 2018: The Oregon Supreme Court declines to hear the case, leaving in place the ruling in favor of the plaintiff upholding Oregon’s nondiscrimination law.
  • October 19, 2018: Attorneys representing Sweet Cakes by Melissa file a petition for cert. to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case.
  • March 1, 2019: With the case fully briefed, the cert. petition is distributed for the February 22 conference at the U.S. Supreme Court, the first chance for the Justices to take action on the petition. The justices take no action, then the petition is distributed to multiple future conferences throughout the spring of 2019. The justices have yet to take action on the petition.
  • June 17, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court sends the Klein case back to the lower court in Oregon reconsider the ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop
  • January 9, 2020: The Oregon intermediate Court of Appeals hears oral argument in the case.

Last Updated April 8, 2020

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