The $135,000Â Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined after discriminating against a same-sex couple has turned into a major net profit several times as much.
More than two years ago Sweet Cakes By Melissa ownersÂ Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The couple, Laurel BowmanÂ and Rachel Cryer,Â filed a complaint with the State of Oregon, expressing the emotional upset that illegal refusal cost them. Later, they would also be forced to detail the death threats and other negative attention visited upon them by the Kleins’ anonymous supporters who believe they were following the edicts of their Christian faith.Â
Late last month, after a lengthy legal battle â€“Â which at one point included the Kleins’ lawyer asking for the proceedings to be stopped and the same-sex couple to be presented with a $200,000 bill for damages, and attorney and court fees, which was rightly deniedÂ â€“ theÂ Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) decided in favor of theÂ Bowman-Cryers, fining the Kleins $135,000.
But the lengthy, drawn out case gave plenty of time and opportunity for conservatives and the religious right to paint theÂ Bowman-Cryers and the LGBT community as “fascists” and to generate a great deal of public sympathy for the Kleins, mostly via false statements, hyperbole, truth-twisting, and just straight-up lying.
That sympathy has turned into big bucks for the Kleins.Â
NCRM has reported before on the fundraising efforts promoted by religious extremists, from Franklin GrahamÂ to theÂ American Family Association. A week ago donations to various fundraising campaigns came to about as much as the Kleins’ $135,000 fineÂ â€“ which reportedly has yet to be paid. Now, those efforts have turned into a cash cow for the Kleins. Whenever they ultimately decide to cash out, they’ll be rolling in the dough.
As we noted last week,Â Franklin GrahamÂ has been hostingÂ a fundraisingÂ campaignÂ for them via his Samaritan’s Purse charity, and a GoFundMe campaign delivered reportedlyÂ about $60,000 after taxesÂ before it was shut down, although some state that number was closer to $80,000.
Another fundraising campaignÂ via Continue To Give last week had taken in over $55,000. Today, eight days later, that figure is about $345,000. Most of those donations appear to be anonymous, but Continue To Give listsÂ 7,537 separate donations, an average of about $45 each.
The anti-gay hate groupÂ American Family Association has been promoting the fundraising campaign as a way to grow their own donor base, asking supporters to sign a petition linking to theÂ Continue To Give campaign, while handing over their email addresses so AFA can later spam them. The petition also falsely claims a “gag order” is in place, generating even more sympathy for the Kleins.
TheÂ American Family Association is far from the only right wing group promoting the Kleins as religiousÂ celebrities. The Heritage Foundation, headed by the virulently anti-gay former U.S. Republican Senator Jim DeMint, put out this video earlier this year to give the Kleins the opportunity to explain how they don’t hate gay people, just their weddings:
“There was never any intention on hurting these two girls, ever,” Melissa says on camera. “We’re not those type of people,” she insists.Â
“We’ve been mischaracterized,” Aaron Klein adds. “We’ve served gays on many occasions.” In court documents he admitted to also quoting Leviticus 18:22Â to Rachel Bowman-Cryer’s mother after declining to bake the wedding cake.
“We’re not those type of people.” “We’ve been mischaracterized.”Â Leviticus quotation notwithstanding.
The Kleins, via their Facebook page, are promoting other fundraisers too, likeÂ oneÂ by the Lynchwood Church of God, andÂ their P.O. box addressÂ for please who wish to send them cash or checks directly.
So, $345,000, plus let’s call it $60,000, and not counting any other cash from fundraisingÂ efforts like Graham’sÂ Samaritan’s Purse and others, gives the Kleins $405,000. That’s exactly three times the amount of the fine the people of Oregon imposed on them after discriminating against theÂ Bowman-Cryers.
It’s actually surprising how un-generous the Kleins’ supporters have been. After all, to the far Christian right, they are heroesÂ and martyrs who are standing up against the long arm of the law and gay “fascism.”
By contrast, the owners of Indiana’s Memories PizzaÂ earlier this year merely told a reporter they couldn’t, if asked, cater a wedding of a same-sex couple. A hypothetical that never came to pass. In return, conservatives and the religious right threw more than twice as much cash at the pizza purveyorsÂ â€“ nearly $850,000.
The Oregonian, Sept. 30, 2015, reports “crowdfunding efforts … have raised more than $500,000″ on the Kleins’ behalf.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the Klein’s fine has not been paid despite the amount of money donated.
Image via The Heritage Foundation/YouTube
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‘Scared to Death’: Trump’s Prison Panic Admission Means He Knows He’s Doomed Says Legal Expert
Reacting to a report that Donald Trump has been quizzing his attorneys about what type of prison he likely will be sent to, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner stated that is not only an indication that he knows he’s going to be convicted but also an admission of guilt.
Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart, the attorney was asked about a recent Rolling Stone report about Trump’s prison panic.
As Rolling Stone reported, Trump asked if he’s “be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”
According to the attorney, Trump is revealing himself by asking for so many details.
“What does this tell you about Trump’s mindset?” host Capehart asked.
“It tells me he is scared to death” Kirschner quickly answered. “It tells me he has overwhelming consciousness of guilt because he knows what he did wrong and he knows he is about to be held accountable for his crimes. So it is not surprising that he is obsessing.”
“If he was confident that he would be completely exonerated, would he have to obsess about what his future time in prison might look like?” he suggested. “I think the last refuge for Donald Trump can be seen in a recent post where he urged the Republicans to defund essentially the prosecutions against him. which, to this prosecutor, Jonathan, smells a lot like an attempt to obstruct justice.”
Watch below or at the link.
Image via Shutterstock
‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban
A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”
Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”
Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”
Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.
“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.
“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”
West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.
Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”
Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”
Gaetz Praises GOP Congressman Who Echoes His Call for Change ‘Through Force’
U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL). largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that appear to suggest the use of violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.
“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”
Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.
“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”
Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.
Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”
“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”
“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”
“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”
In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”
“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”
At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”
“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.
“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”
Image via Shutterstock
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