May 11, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 33 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
In January 2013, Rachel Cryer and her mother walked into Sweet Cakes By Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, and tried to order a wedding cake. Aaron Klein, the co-owner (and Melissa’s husband), was informed Cryer would be marrying another woman. He apologized and told them that providing a cake for a same-sex wedding violated his Christian convictions. Cryer walked out of the store.
In a suburb adjacent to Portland, one of the most progressive cities in America, Sweet Cakes By Melissa was living on borrowed time once the incident became public. (The city is so famously tolerant that Sam Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major city, survived two recall attempts after it was revealed that he had lied about having a relationship with an underage teenage boy. His supporters initially smeared those making the accusations as homophobic.) Protests started outside the bakery soon after, and by September 2013 Sweet Cakes had closed its doors.
You might think that once Sweet Cakes By Melissa had been driven out of business, the good citizens offended by the Kleins’ beliefs would have called it a day. But the totalitarianism of America’s liberal culture warriors is a thing to behold.
On April 24, 2015, more than a year and a half after the bakery was shuttered, Alan McCullough, an administrative law judge for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in fines for violating the state’s public accommodation laws. It is impossible to see this award as anything but excessively punitive. A few years back, a New Mexico wedding photographer was penalized by that state for refusing to work at a same-sex commitment ceremony. The fine in that case was $6,637.
McCullough arrived at his determination by citing a laundry list of damages asserted by Cryer and her partner. Since this was an administrative decision, there was no requirement the women prove their claims. And so they piled them on: “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful” and “pale and sick at home after work,” suffered “shock,” “surprise,” and “uncertainty.” Some are contradictory: both “loss of appetite” and “weight gain.” The judge was apparently moved.
The Kleins have five children to take care of, and their income has dropped precipitously since their business closed. Aaron now works as a garbage collector. They say the fine could bankrupt them. So shortly after the decision was handed down, supporters started taking up a collection on the popular GoFundMe website. In just a few hours, donors had contributed $109,000 to the Kleins. Then GoFundMe, under pressure from critics of the Kleins, shut down the fundraiser. The rationale? The website has a policy of refusing fundraisers “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”
Behind the organized campaign to pressure GoFundMe was Lisa Watson, the owner of Cupcake Jones in downtown Portland. (Cupcake Jones also provides wedding cakes and was presumably a competitor of Sweet Cakes By Melissa.) “This business has been found GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION and is being allowed to fundraise to pay their penalty. . . . The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,” Watson wrote on her Facebook page.
The First Amendment issues surrounding compelled participation in a same-sex marriage celebration are far from settled, and it’s absurd to think the Kleins are guilty of a “heinous crime.” Even Andrew Sullivan, the writer perhaps most responsible for making gay marriage a legal reality, has spoken out against such inquisitions: “If you find someone who’s genuinely conflicted about doing something for your wedding, let them be. Find someone else.”
But ironically, pleas for tolerance are not carrying the day, either in Portland or in the gay community. On April 25, Cupcake Jones was given an award for LGBT activism by Basic Rights Oregon. Prominent gay activist and radio host Michelangelo Signorile has a new book out in which he declares, “It’s time for us to be intolerant—intolerant of all forms of . . . bigotry against LBGT people.”
C. S. Lewis once warned that a tyranny of “omnipotent moral busybodies” would be the worst tyranny of all, for “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end . . . with the approval of their own conscience.” The Klein family’s Jacobin persecutors are intent on stamping out a Christian morality they believe to be rigid and punitive. By inflicting inordinate material harm and insisting on a total capitulation of conscience, they only reveal their own pernicious and pitiless ambitions.
7:27 PM, Feb 4, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Oregonian, the biggest paper in the state, is calling for the resignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as a result of shady dealings related to his longtime girlfriend and fiancée:
More ugliness may surface, but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor. If he wants to serve his constituents he should resign.
9:17 AM, Jan 6, 2015 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
While college football fans were riveted to the two playoff games on New Year’s Day (make that one-and-a-half playoff games, as the second half of the Rose Bowl was hardly must-see T.V.), some commentators could hardly wait to seize the moment to criticize the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), college football’s previous format for determining its national champion.
Hosted by Michael Graham.11:38 AM, Jan 2, 2015 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the new year, the College Football Playoff, Foreign Policy, and Politics.
After an audit finds Portland inflated its streetcar stats, a legendary loudmouth suddenly clams up.1:33 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Portland, Oregon, city commissioner Steve Novick is nothing if not verbose.
By 60 to 23 percent margin, fans said they would rather entrust the BCS than a committee. 6:04 PM, Dec 7, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Most college football fans are happy that the sport has adopted a 4-team playoff. The method of selecting those four teams, however, is another matter. This past offseason, McLaughlin & Associates asked self-described college football fans this question: “As you may know, college football will have a 4-team playoff starting next season.
5:05 PM, Aug 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The campaign of Democratic senator Jeff Merkley turned away three people from a "private event" in Hillsboro, Oregon, despite the fact that the people said they were invited to the event. A tracker with the campaign of Merkley's Republican opponent, Monica Wehby, captured the exchange between the three people and a representative of the Merkley campaign. Watch it below:
The astounding waste, corruption, and self-dealing of university student governments Aug 11, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 45 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
For anyone who follows national politics, there is no shortage of scandals and harrowing economic figures to buttress the opinion that our leadership is corrupt and incompetent. My own pessimism about government, however, is born of experience. I was foolish once and young; I even believed in The System. That was before I spent time in student government, a corner of campus life that is directly responsible for accelerating the degradation of our broader political culture. If, as P. J.
2:50 PM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Monica Wehby is on track to win today's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Oregon, and Democrats are already unloading on her as she prepares to face off against incumbent Jeff Merkley in the fall. Last Friday, a Politico article described a police report filed last year that alleged Wehby, a divorced mother, had been "stalking" and "harassing" an ex-boyfriend, local businessman Andrew Miller.
1:13 PM, May 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Monica Wehby, a Republican candidate for Senate in Oregon, leads her primary opponent Jason Conger by 17 points in a new poll by a GOP polling group supporting Wehby. New Republican, which has been running TV ads on Wehby's behalf, polled 500 likely primary voters in Oregon and found 41 percent support Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and first-time candidate, while 24 percent support state senator Jason Conger.
Despite exorbitant costs, shuttered exchange, and FBI investigation.4:31 PM, May 6, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon defended Obamacare's record in his state, despite months of turmoil for the Oregon health insurance exchange that has ended in closing the exchange and prompted a federal investigation. One recent poll found 51 percent of Oregonians disapprove of Obamacare. Merkley, a Democrat who voted for Obamacare and is up for reelection this year, was asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD to defend the law given its poor reception in his state.
But is she 'wimping out' of a primary debate?8:36 AM, May 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll shows Republican Monica Wehby leading incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley for the first time in the race for U.S. Senate in Oregon. The poll, conducted for the Daily Caller by Vox Populi Polling, asked registered voters who they are supporting in the race, with 40 percent saying they'd support Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and first-time candidate, and another 5 percent saying they are leaning toward voting for her.