Bakery Owners Accused of Anti-Gay Discrimination Move to New “Religious Freedom” Legal FirmÂ
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 marryÂ Laurel Bowman â€“ a woman â€“Â 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 documentÂ â€“ which included the home address and contact information of the Bowman-CryersÂ â€“ 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 theÂ Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups.
â€œThe past three years have been devastating,â€ Melissa Klein says in a press release today from First Liberty, formerly the Liberty Institute. â€œJust because we couldnâ€™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.â€
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:Â 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:
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 orderedÂ 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:Â
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 pageÂ 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 asÂ White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush. Gray reportedly sits on the boards ofÂ the uber-conservative Federalist Society and the Koch Brothers’ Tea Party groupÂ 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.”
Images: Screenshots via First Liberty
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‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.
In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.
After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.
Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.
“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.
“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”
“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”
Watch the segment below or at this link.
‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”
“I was misled … the information that I was given turned out in part to be inaccurate. And I’m absolutely livid about that” — Greg Abbott on his initial false statement portraying Uvalde first responders as heroes pic.twitter.com/dUIdxnicjm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 27, 2022
Critics aren’t buying his claims.
Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.
“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.
“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.
“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.
Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”
Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”
Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.
“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.
Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:
.@GregAbbott_TX responding to a question on long rifles “it seems like only in the past decade or two we have had school shootings.” Governor, the assault weapons ban ended in 2004. See the connection? You have actively helped to sell millions of weapons since then.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2022
And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”
“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then. He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”
“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”
‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns
The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.
Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”
That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”
“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”
Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.
“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.
“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your press conference… you have to do something” pic.twitter.com/OiRI1OQZWQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 27, 2022
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