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Aaron And Melissa Klein Head For Big (Money) Leagues With New Attorney

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Bakery Owners Accused of Anti-Gay Discrimination Move to New “Religious Freedom” Legal Firm 

In 2011 a woman and her mother walked in to Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a local Oregon bakery, to order a cake for the woman’s wedding. Aaron Klein, upon learning that Rachel Cryer was engaged to marry Laurel Bowman – a woman – told them they don’t bake wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, and the woman and her mother left, distraught. According to court documents, Rachel’s mother returned shortly thereafter, and that’s when Aaron Klein began citing Leviticus as his rationale for refusing them service.

Also according to court documents, Klein, after receiving a notice from the State of Oregon that discrimination charges had been filed, posted the document – which included the home address and contact information of the Bowman-Cryers – to Facebook, leading to countless death threats and other forms of harassment against the women and the two foster children they were attempting to adopt.

None of this will Aaron or Melissa Klein ever admit to in public, nor, likely, will their new attorneys.

The Kleins have received well over half a million dollars from concerned and supportive conservative Christians outraged that the husband and wife, “good Christians,” “lost their business,” or so the Kleins claim, and were themselves subjected to harassment.

The Kleins have also started a new business, of sorts: they are now stars on the religious freedom talk circuit, making the rounds to events sponsored by the likes of the Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups.

“The past three years have been devastating,” Melissa Klein says in a press release today from First Liberty, formerly the Liberty Institute. “Just because we couldn’t participate in an event that violated our religious beliefs, we lost our business. We were committed to serving everyone regardless of their circumstances at all other times.”

First Liberty in their press release describes Melissa Klein as the “former owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” and to show just how much compassion the young couple deserve, First Liberty proudly has placed a photo of the Kleins in front of their van, their van that says, “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” with a web address: SweetCakesWeb.com. If you click on it you might be confused, because the Kleins, as you can see, are still very much in business.

Here’s the top of the press release:

Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_6.32.08_PM.jpg

Notice it breathlessly claims the Kleins “were forced to shut down their bakery.” It also claims they “lost their bakery for running their business according to their religious beliefs,” and that this is a “high profile case involving religious liberty.”

Which it is not, as the Kleins were ordered to pay the Bowman-Cryers $135,000 in damages, not fines, and not, contrary to what the right wing press and religious groups would like you to believe, because they refused to bake a wedding cake.

For the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of the case, read: 
Almost Everything You’ve Heard About The Anti-Gay Sweet Cakes Wedding Cake Case Is (Probably) Wrong

The Kleins have apparently dropped their now-former attorney and, like elected officials who want to make big money after doing their stint of public service, have signed on to a top firm. The only difference is instead of a signing with a speakers firm, they’ve signed with a law firm. First Liberty, headed by the infamous Kelly Shackleford, says it is the “largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom.”

But just like a speakers’ firm, the Kleins have their own page at Fist Liberty, and you can even use it to “Book an interview” with them.

The Kleins also now have a proper big-name attorney, C. Boyden Gray, who served as White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush. Gray reportedly sits on the boards of the uber-conservative Federalist Society and the Koch Brothers’ Tea Party group FreedomWorks.

Although it’s not in the press release, the far right wing website Breitbart claims the Kleins’ new lawyers “add that there is a significant chance that this case may finally end up before the Supreme Court of the United States.”

 

EARLIER:

‘We Feel Like We Shouldn’t Have To Pay’: Sweet Cakes Bakers Say State Order Not ‘Legally Binding’

‘Sweet Cakes’ Baker Melissa Klein: The State Took ‘God’s Money’ From Us

Sweet Cakes Bakers Still Actively Fundraising, Cash Pouring In

Final Verdict In Oregon Bakers Case Comes To $135,000 – Right Wing Furious Over ‘Gay Fascism Tax’

 

Images: Screenshots via First Liberty

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Religious Right Activists Petition Pompeo’s ‘Unalienable Rights’ Commission to ‘Make the Family Great Again’

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The commission created by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider U.S. human rights policy, ostensibly according to the principles of unalienable rights and a particular interpretation of natural law, held its most recent public meeting at the U.S. State Department on Friday, where the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse used the Q&A time to read a statement and submit a petition that urges President Donald Trump and Pompeo to “Make the Family Great Again.” Morse claimed that “the family itself has human rights.” Morse is essentially asking the commission to endorse the idea that the so-called “traditional family” has “fundamental” rights that equal or exceed those of individuals.

When the Commission on Unalienable Rights was created last year, anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown called it an “extraordinary opening to push for clear and consistent recognition of the natural family,” adding that it “gives us a forum to challenge American foreign policy that has in the past advanced the extreme agenda of the left that has been cloaked in the language of so-called human rights.”

The Ruth Institute started as a project of Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, so it’s not surprising that Morse shares his view about the potential for the commission to help them advance their anti-equality agenda. Morse’s petition signers include an array of U.S. and international anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ activists, including Gary Bauer, Janice Crouse, Robert George, Mike Huckabee, Alveda King, Rick Scarborough, and Sharon Slater. Among the signers from outside the U.S. is Levan Vasadze, the businessman and anti-LGBTQ activist who hosted the 2016 World Congress of Families global summit in the capital of Georgia, the former Soviet republic.

The petition urges the Commission on Unalienable Rights to “work for recognition of the following fundamental rights”:

  1. The right of every child to a relationship with his or her natural mother and father except for an unavoidable tragedy.
  2. The right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents.
  3. The right to life from conception to natural death.
  4. The right of families to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values without being undermined by the state.

Human rights advocates, LGBTQ-equality activists, and others are concerned that the commission—dominated by conservative academics—was created to provide intellectual justification for bringing human rights advocacy in line with right-wing complaints about human rights “inflation.” And they worry that most commission members aim to put a right-wing interpretation of religious liberty into a top tier of rights that would exclude other rights recognized by the U.S. and the international community since the founding of the United Nations. The commission has been holding monthly public meetings, hearing from speakers expressing a range of views, and taking public questions. Its report is expected sometime this spring.

Pompeo and other Trump administration officials have also spent the past year mobilizing a new “pro-family” coalition of conservative and authoritarian governments designed to resist any international agreements or action by U.N. agencies that recognize reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality (which is deemed to be “anti-family”), and comprehensive sex education.

Morse claimed a few years ago that the goal of “radical feminists” and “sexual revolutionaries” was to expand the power of the state to take control over family life—and that they were using divorce and gay marriage to do it.

The Ruth Institute bills itself as “a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.” It promotes “those who have walked away from a same sex lifestyle” and other “survivors of the sexual revolution.”

Morse’s statement at the State Department was promoted by One News Now, a news arm of the American Family Association.

RELATED STORIES:

Hundreds of Orgs, Political and Religious Leaders Demand Pompeo Abolish His Anti-LGBTQ ‘Commission on Unalienable Rights’

Rights Activists Alarmed as Pompeo Installs Anti-Gay Anti-Abortion Activist to Head New Commission on ‘Natural Law’

State Dept. Quietly Creates Commission Focused on ‘Fresh Thinking’ About ‘Natural Rights’ – Code for Anti-LGBT

 

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

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UGLY AMERICAN

Trump Butchers Language During Massive India Welcome Rally — as Crowd Walks Out on His Speech

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President Donald Trump butchered several Indian words during a speech on his first official visit to the country.

Trump addressed a massive public rally Monday in Gujarat, the home state of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, and struggled to pronounce several words, reported BBC.

The U.S. president bungled his pronunciation of Ahmedabad, the city where he was speaking, and the name of Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda.

Trump, who entered to the music of Elton John, also called the Vedas — ancient Hindu texts — the “Vestas.”

BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan reported that crowds began leaving midway through Trump’s speech, which came after Modi spoke.

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HATE

Carnival Celebration Includes Burning Effigy of Kissing Same-Sex Couple as Children Watch and Adults Applaud

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The town of Imotski in the mostly-Catholic country of Croatia is getting attention after its leaders decided to burn an effigy of a same-sex couple kissing, and holding a child, as part of a 150-year old annual carnival celebration.

As the video below shows, the figures of two men kissing were lit on fire, and were quickly engulfed by flames as adults cheered and applauded and young children stood and watched. Confetti was thrown, some of the children were unsure what to make of the hateful spectacle, and a few appeared excited. One little girl applauded and then quickly walked off. Several attendees, including children, filmed the event for posterity.

One of the figures burned “clearly showed the face of Social Democratic Party MP Nenad Stazic, who has campaigned in parliament for same-sex couples to be allowed to foster children,” BalkanInsight reports. “His character had also a red star on his forehead, the symbol of former communist Yugoslavia.”

One of the carnival organizers defended the choice of burning a same-sex couple.

“We remain conservative, sticking to tradition. Give the baby to a mother, as the saying goes. We think that’s right.”

But political leaders, including the country’s president, and activists are speaking out.

“The symbolic burning of same-sex partners with a foster child in Imotski is a sad, inhumane and totally unacceptable act in the guise of the ‘Bakova povorka’ festivities,” President Zoran Milanovic wrote on Facebook, according to Total Croatia News.

The organizers who staged this shameful event, in the name of tradition, deserve the strongest public condemnation because of the hatred they have demonstrated toward for others. Intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition,” he added, while pointing out that “many children watched this event, thus witnessing the spread of hatred and inciting violence.”

The nation’s Education Minister, Blazenka Divjak, and Economy Minister, Darko Horvat, also condemned the display.

“The scary scenes from Imotski cannot be justified by carnival customs,” the Rainbow Family Association’s Daniel Martinovic said. “What kind of message is being sent to our children, children who nowadays in Croatia grow up with lesbian mothers or gay fathers?”

Total Croatia News reports criminal charges will be brought against the carnival’s organizer.

Watch – the hateful act begins near the end of the video at about the 1:41:00 mark:

Hat tip: Towleroad

This article has been updated to include a more accurate translation.

 

 

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