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The Supreme Court Won’t Review the Oregon Gay Wedding Cake Case

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A same-sex marriage supporter waves a rainbow pride flag near the Supreme Court, on April 28th, 2015, in Washington, D.C., just days before the Supreme Court heard arguments on same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court on Monday chose not to review whether a baker’s refusal to create a wedding cake for a gay couple on the grounds of religious objections violated Oregon state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Portland that has since closed, were hit with a $135,000 fine after refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013.

The case has reinvigorated a heated debate about anti-discrimination, freedom of religion, and First Amendment speech rights. Here’s some key context for understanding what this case is about, why the court declined to hear it, and what’s ahead.

Religious Objections as ‘Protected Views’

That debate came to a head after a similar case caught national attention last term: A Colorado baker had refused to make a cake for the wedding reception of a gay couple, which the couple argued was a violation of the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission concluded that the baker had, in fact, violated state anti-discrimination rules, a decision which was later affirmed by state courts. The ruling was then overturned 7–2 by the Supreme Court on the basis that the commission was not religiously neutral in its decision. But the court refrained from tackling the larger issues at play in the case: discrimination based on sexual orientation, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech.

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