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Oregon Court of Appeals overturns $135K fine for bakery

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PORTLAND, OR- According to reports, the Oregon Court of Appeals has made another decision in the long-running case of a Gresham baker’s refusal to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple back in 2013. 

On Wednesday, January 26th, an opinion released by the three-judge panel, stated that the court has upheld its original 2017 decision against the couple, Aaron and Melissa Klein, who at the time were doing business as Sweet Cakes by Melissa — based on a 2015 determination by the Bureau of Labor and Industries that they violated Oregon’s 2007 law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

While the Oregon Court of Appeals again ruled that Sweetcakes by Melissa discriminated against a gay couple, the justices tossed the fine. https://t.co/HNq5XMV4bm

— Portland Patch (@PortlandPatch) January 27, 2022

At the time, the couple argued that by baking a cake for the same-sex wedding, doing so would infringe on their religious rights. 

However, the court also stated in its recent opinion that it has overturned its previous approval of $60,000 in non-economic damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 to Rachel Bowman-Cryer, both initially awarded by an administrative law judge in the bureau.

The court found that the awards were based partly on a conversation about beliefs between Aaron Klein and Cheryl McPherson, Rachel’s mother, who the court found relayed it inaccurately to the couple.

The court reportedly sent that part of the case back to the bureau for a re-examination of the remedy for damages.

The long-running case stems from January 2013 when Rachel visited Sweet Cakes with her mother to order a cake for her upcoming wedding. After learning that Rachel planned to marry another woman, Aaron Klein apologized and refused to take the order, citing he and his wife’s Christian faith. 

The Oregon Court of Appeals was right 5 years ago when they ruled that freedom of religion is not a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ folks, and their latest ruling this week affirmed that has not changed.

More from Senior Counsel @JennyPizer: https://t.co/0xU6Mllq4e

— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) January 29, 2022

Rachel offered her reaction to the court’s ruling in a statement that was released by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed a brief on the couple’s behalf:

“It’s been nine years since we asked for a cake, a simple cake that we were going to decorate ourselves. We would never have set foot in Sweet Cakes had we known the humiliation Aaron Klein would subject us to, simply because of who were are.”

She added:

“But, we also know that no one else should ever be treated that way, so we continue to stand up for what is right even though the process has taken years and has been extremely stressful. Our daughters deserve no less from us.”

In 2016, the bakery closed. The Kleins pursued the case on grounds of religious rights. A lawyer for the group that represented the Kleins said they will appeal again to the Oregon Supreme Court and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest decision in the case was written by Erin Lagesen, now chief judge of the Court of Appeals. Others on the panel were Judge Bronson James and now-Senior Judge Joel DeVore. The court considered the arguments back on January 9, 2020.

Stephanie Taub is senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, based outside Dallas, which specializes in religious cases that critics say oppose gay rights. Taub said in a statement:

“Oregon is trying to have its cake and eat it too. The court admits the state agency that acted as both prosecutor and judge in this case was biased against the Klein’s faith.

Yet, despite this anti-Christian bias that infected the whole case, the court is sending the case back to the very same agency for a d0-over. Today’s opinion should have been the end of this 10-year-long saga.

It’s time for the state of Oregon’s hostility toward Aaron and Melissa to end.”

The Oregon Court of Appeals said that Oregon’s 2007 law is constitutional. Lagesen wrote:

“Neither the state constitution nor the federal constitution precludes the enforcement of the statute against Aaron (Klein), even though the enforcement of the statute burdens Aaron’s practice of his faith.

In so doing, we conclude that (the 2021 federal decision) does not displace our previous conclusion that it is a genuinely applicable and neutral law.”

Court Finally Slaps Oregon for Anti-Religious Bias Due to $135,000 Fine Against Christian Bakers, Case Not Over | The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed part of a state decision #christian non-profithttps://t.co/cugfyrqQx3

— Redeemer’s Sports (@RedeemersSports) January 28, 2022

Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, reacted by saying:

“In 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a thorough and thoughtful decision explaining that our precious freedoms of religion and speech are not licenses for businesses to ostracize LGBT people.

Oregon law guarantees equality, not being sent elsewhere as second-class pariahs.

The court was right five years ago and is still right today. The Klein’s faith does not give them a pass to ignore Oregon’s public accommodation law.”

An attorney who represented the Kleins did not respond to a message requesting comment by OPB. According to state business registration records, the couple has moved their bakery to Montana. 

California sued over law forcing companies headquartered in the state to fill board seats with minorities and LGBTQ individuals

November 26th, 2021

SACRAMENTO, CA- According to reports, a conservative think tank has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of California to halt a law that will force quotas on publicly held corporations headquartered in the state, requiring them to appoint board members based solely on their race and/or sexual orientation.

California Sued Over Law Forcing Appointment of Minorities and LGBT to Corporate Boards https://t.co/gL8ndRKvlM

— Sharon (@SweetFreedom29) November 26, 2021

On Tuesday, November 23rd, the National Center for Public Policy Research filed a lawsuit against the state in a District Court, challenging the new state law that mandates a minimal number of board seats to be given to minority or LGBT employees. 

The board mandate, also known as Assembly Bill 979, was signed into law in 2020. According to the law, which was authored by Chris Holden (D- Pasadena), California headquartered companies must have strict minimums on the number of minority or LGBT board members.

Per the law, for companies with fewer than four board members, then one must come from one of those minority groups. For companies with between four and eight board seats, they must have at least two minority seats held; larger boards will need to have at least three. 

Assembly Bill 979 was largely influenced by Senate Bill 826, a 2018 law that set similar board quotas for women.

While Assembly Bill 979 has aimed to even out corporate ranks in California, where over 75 percent of board seats of state-based companies are white, opponents have charged that the law will lead to discrimination.

Opponents state that the law will force companies to “overlook the best candidates and force diversity immediately rather than let companies build up internal candidates organically.”

California Sued Over Law Forcing Appointment of Minorities and LGBT to Corporate Boards https://t.co/ue5AH2Ocfj

— Dennis Dilday (@DennisDildayDC) November 25, 2021

The conservative think tank, with legal representation by the Pacific Legal Foundation, said in their lawsuit that diversity quotas injure the Plaintiff’s right to vote for the candidate of its choice, free of government-imposed race, sex, and sexual orientation quotas. 

On November 23rd, Pacific Legal Foundation said that they hope to make not only Assembly Bill 979, but Senate Bill 826 unconstitutional, as both bills give benefits and impose burdens on the basis of race, sex, and sexual orientation. Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Daniel Ortner said in a statement:

“The state of California is intruding into corporate affairs to impose quotas based on race and sex and they don’t have a good justification for doing so. Companies are already diversifying, without the need of the state of California forcing the matter. And doing so through a quota, in particular, is discriminatory and unlawful.”

Many legal experts noted that while the Plaintiffs may have a hard time overturning the laws, there is still a decent chance that the laws can be passed. San Diego lawyer Damon Smith, who specializes in discrimination lawsuits, said:

“People can be discriminated against for so many things. There are many, many laws about this, broken up into even more specializations, such as private companies and government entities.”

He added:

“This lawsuit challenges board seats and it appears that it can be argued both ways. Yes, when California barely has any board seats held by African Americans or Latinos, while whites and Asian Americans have nearly all the seats, there is an inherent problem. But, when you force diversification, companies have to look away from qualified candidates solely based on their skin.”

He continued:

“That’s discrimination too. All they need is one white candidate who is also say, Jewish or Armenian or part of a white ethnic group to cry discrimination and they will have a real tough time justifying the law. A lot of companies had to drop plans because of incidents like that.”

Smith concluded:

“This could have been rectified by programs that haven’t been challenged in the court, like leadership programs for people of color or other organic ways that the companies and state could have brought people up, but instead they force it at a time when companies are planning to leave California.

Tesla and other companies will no longer have to adhere to this outside the state, and this is just one of many reasons why they’re leaving.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

California high school teacher under investigation after calling conservatives ‘complete idiots’ in history quiz

November 11th, 2021

ROCKLIN, CA – Parents reached out to a local high school when they learned that one of their teachers had allegedly authored a quiz in which seemingly mocked those with Republican and/or conservative values.

Once the school learned of this issue, they opened an investigation into the claim.

Parents at Whitney High School in Rocklin complained after a Social Science teacher put a controversial question in the quiz putting conservatives in a bad light. https://t.co/zzyOBvr1id

— IBTimes Singapore (@IBTimesSG) November 7, 2021

Parents of students at Whitney High School were floored when they saw what appears to be a quiz that was allegedly authored by a social science teacher that, at the very least, made fun of Republicans and conservatives.

The quiz asked a simple question, to identify a “group of idiots.”

The choices? The KKK, all of Florida, Fox News, or Texans.

One of the parents, Jessa Krissovich, allegedly shared a copy of that quiz on social media. Krissovich told Fox40 that she thought the quiz “sounded unbelievable”. She said:

“We all have different beliefs. This is the United States and we all come from different backgrounds and everybody should be okay with who they are. These stories have gone in one ear and out the other. It sounded unbelievable.”

Another parent who took issue with the quiz, who is unnamed, claimed that the teacher in question has had issues in the past with pushing his political beliefs onto the students.

She said that his beliefs are often against the Republican party, which is evident if he is the person who authored the quiz.

She said:

“The question on the test is really blatant obviously and that’s out there. This has been the first time it has been looked at of him crossing the line.”

The principal of Whitney High, Justin Cutts, sent a letter home to parents, which in part read:

“The purpose of this message is to alert you to a class assignment that has caused concern among the WHS community…On Thursday, November 4, 2021, a quiz was assigned to students by a social science teacher. However, students, families, and the Rocklin community have raised concern about the class assignment…

🤣🤣🤣😀😂🤣🤣😂‼️
“The quiz question asked students in a social science class at Whitney High in Rocklin to identify “a group of complete idiots.” The possible answers were given in multiple-choice format: A) KKK B) all of Florida C) Fox news D) Texans.” https://t.co/Ue4JiqvGrb

“Whitney High and Rockline Unified is committed to providing each student, family, and staff with a safe and welcoming environment. While personnel matters will remain confidential, appropriate disciplinary steps will be taken.”

The teacher is under investigation🤡

The multiple-choice question asked a social science class at Whitney High School in Rocklin to identify “a group of complete idiots,” with possible answers being: “A) KKK; B) all of Florida; C) Fox news; D) Texans.” https://t.co/DpZ5Ejcjuy

— Cherie Buckingham (@upcyclealleykat) November 8, 2021

While some people allege that the unnamed teacher who allegedly created this quiz did so to push his political beliefs onto his students, others choose to believe that it was done only as a joke. One person, a former student of the accused teacher, Joel Alquicira, said:

“I understand he’s just trying to make a joke, but that kind of stuff shouldn’t be on a test. He was always like a funny kind of teacher. He would always make jokes.”

While the school refuses to name the teacher, a change.org petition calling for his firing wasn’t afraid to.

The petition reads:

Mr. Daniel Parker should be removed from his teaching position at Whitney High School in Rocklin, CA. Mr. Parker has polarized his classroom, by bringing in personal politics into the academic environment.

He has worked to polarize his students, alienating his “Conservative” students in what should be a politically neutral, safe space. As an alumni of Whitney High School, I only want to see the best for the students, staff, and school as a whole.

It frustrates me seeing someone in leadership abuse their power. I do not wish any ill-will towards Mr. Parker and his family, but actions like this should not be tolerated on campus.

If the situation was inverse, and the teacher was alienating his liberal leaning students, I would still condone the behavior. 

A commenter on the petition left behind an interesting note calling out what appears to be the school’s hypocrisy:

What a double standard when Julianne Benzel was placed on administrative leave for standing up for free speech and here this teacher only needs to send an “apology”! Set the bar higher RUSD

Regardless of the reason behind the creation of the question, it certainly was not a wise move in any political atmosphere.

Thankfully for the teacher, in this case, the question was, again, at best a jab at Republicans which does not make the mainstream news cycles.

However, if the jab was at Democrats or all of California, would there be outrage that be plastered across all social media and news outlets across the country? Would there be questions as to how intolerant the Republican party is or would there be silence?

Maybe the story was buried underneath other articles of varying importance. Maybe, somehow the mainstream media missed the quiz on social media or reported on other news sites.

Or maybe it is because the mainstream media finds it acceptable to, at the very least, poke fun at members of the Republican party. After all, they find those people to be a group of, well, idiots.

Regardless of the reason, thankfully for you, Law Enforcement Today keeps the pulse of all news accounts to keep you informed of all the news.

‘Game on’: Teacher forced to quit after being at Jan. 6 protest elected to seat on district’s school board

BRAINTREE, MA- Matthew Lynch, who was forced to resign from his job as a teacher in Braintree, Massachusetts after photos showed him at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 has gained his revenge, winning a seat on the district’s school board, according to Gateway Pundit.

Lynch resigned from his position in February after he had worked for the school district for approximately ten years.

According to the Braintree Patch, Lynch was basically the victim of a social media witch hunt:

“Lynch accused those who shared the picture and FBI information of ‘slandering me as a domestic terrorist.’ He called the group a ‘digital lynch mob’ who ‘decided they would take justice into their own hands.”

After the photos went public, Lynch was visited by the FBI after the Twitter mob called an FBI tip line after his photo in DC went public.

Lynch, a military veteran expressed concerns about the direction the nation was going in his resignation letter to the school.

“My military experience as an Intelligence Analyst has given me unique perspective on what is currently going on in both our country and our town and I fear we are heading on a real collision course,” Lynch said in his letter.

“I feel I need to make my voice heard in the town of Braintree but in doing so will have unintended side effects which will be completely unfair to my students.”

Lynch told the Patch he believes in the Braintree schools and also believes they are “worth fighting for.”

“There is a revolution in education going on right now. More and more kids will be leaving public schools for private, Catholic, or homeschooling, which will have a negative effect on Braintree’s schools. I love Braintree Schools and I believe they are worth fighting for, so we have to show parents why Braintree Schools is the place for their children.”

Lynch told The Patriot Ledger that he hopes to get “decision-making back with parents and away from the state” where it concerns schools.

He also noted that policies implemented ostensibly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are preventing students from making up learning lost during the pandemic.

Before the vote, Lynch said he was concerned about the mental health of students forced into isolation by COVID lockdowns last year.

“The state locked our kids out of school, put them in a losing posture with remote learning, and caused trauma at levels we don’t even know about yet,” he told Patch for their candidate profile series.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reported Lynch told the Braintree Patch he had been questioned by the FBI, however wouldn’t confirm whether or not he was under investigation for anything.

The FBI said they “couldn’t confirm or deny” if Lynch was in fact investigated or if he had been one who entered the Capitol.

“Good luck with your article; hope you don’t print false information,” Lynch was quoted as telling the Patch.

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