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After six years and hundreds of celebratory confections, it wasn’t the economy, the stiff competition, financing, or any of the other usual road bumps of building a new business that caused Sweet Cakes by Melissa—a husband-and-wife bakery in Portland, Oregon area—to close its doors at the end of the summer.Instead, it was the nationwide battle over same-sex marriage.Besides Sweet Cakes by Melissa, they are: ■ Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado: Owner Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in July.
“As a result of their power, homosexual activists are able to intimidate and silence opposition.” Such fundamental clashes are linked to the spreading legalization of same-sex marriage.
Of the 11 total cases cited above, three occurred within two years of their state legalizing same-sex marriage. Four others were in states that did not have same-sex marriage but had granted some legal recognition to same-sex unions, such as domestic partnerships or civil unions.
One of the women had filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, which ruled against the photographers in 2008, prompting an appeals process that led to the high court decision. (Sources: press releases and news reports including the Catholic News Agency and the Santa Fe New Mexican.
The case is discussed further below.) ■ Arlene’s Flowers, Washington: A florist refused to provide flowers to a gay wedding last March and now owner Baronelle Stutzman is facing a lawsuit from the state Attorney General.
(Sources: news reports including local television.) ■ Liberty Ridge Farm, New York: The family-owned farm in mid-state New York is facing a human rights complaint after refusing to host a lesbian wedding in 2012.
(Sources: local news sources here and here and the Huffington Post.) ■ All Occasion Party Place, Texas: In February, the Fort Worth-based wedding venue declined to host a wedding reception for a gay couple.(Sources: news reports including local television and the Associated Press.) ■ Wildflower Inn, Vermont: A lesbian couple sued the Wildflower Inn under the state public accommodations law in 2011 after being told they could not have their wedding reception there.The owners were reportedly open to holding same-sex ceremonies as long as customers were notified that the events personally violated their Catholic faith. The inn had to settle the case in 2012, paying a ,000 fine and putting double that amount in a charitable trust.An online boycott has now been launched against the business.(Sources: local news and the Huffington Post.) ■ Gortz Haus, Iowa: After refusing to host a gay wedding (reported in August), Betty Odgaard, the owner of the business, received threatening calls and e-mails and now must contend with a complaint the couple has filed with the state civil rights commission.Phillips has said he would rather close his bakeshop than compromise his Christian beliefs.