Oregon Initative Would Allow Businesses to Refuse Services for Same-Sex Weddings

Oregon Initative Would Allow Businesses to Refuse Services for Same-Sex Weddings

As more states legalize gay marriage, privately owned businesses and religious organizations are being confronted on their policies concerning homosexuality. The latest case comes out of Oregon, where critics of gay marriage have filed a proposed ballot measure that would allow businesses to refuse to serve gay weddings or similar ceremonies if it violated their religious beliefs, The Oregonian reports.

The initiative follows a highly publicized campaign against a bakery that refused to provide a cake for a marriage between two women. A complaint was filed against Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, claiming the bakery violated a 2007 state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein have said they serve customers regardless of their sexual orientation but do not want to provide services for same-sex weddings because of their religious beliefs, notes The Oregonian. The complaint against the bakery is still under investigation.

Teresa Harke, spokeswoman for the Friends of Religious Freedom, says she is “deeply concerned that even Oregon elected officials are becoming hostile towards religious freedom.” She and other critics of the state law are hoping that this ballot measure will help other wedding photographers, caterers, and innkeepers with similar cases across the country.

"Would you expect a Jewish bakery to serve a neo-Nazi who wanted a cake with a swastika on it?" Harke said, noting that existing law would not require service in that case.

The initiative specifically allows people outside of government to refuse to provide business services to same-sex weddings or their arrangements or to functions marking same-sex civil unions or same-sex domestic partnerships.

Publication Date: November 26, 2013.