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Court of Appeals Rules Against Christian Bakers Who Refused Same-Sex Couple’s Request for a Wedding Cake

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Melissa and Aaron Klein Will Have to Pay $135,000 in Damages

The owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa have lost their appeal. On Thursday the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the Oregon labor commissioner’s decision that the Christian bakers must pay $135,000 in damages – not for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple, although they did, but for emotional and mental distress.

Melissa and Aaron Klein (photo), the couple behind Sweetcakes by Melissa became the face of the Christian right’s persecution claims, sparking a national debate filled with falsehoods and bereft of many facts in the case.

And they benefitted from the misinformation campaign handsomely. Donations poured in. Some reports say the couple were given well over a half-million dollars in donations via crowdfunding sites, but those figures don’t include money sent to the couple directly. 

The Oregonian reports, “in their ruling Thursday, a panel of state appeals court judges sided with [state labor commissioner Brad] Avakian, saying the Kleins did, in fact, deny the Bowman-Cryers because they were lesbians. The justices also rejected the Kleins’ argument that Avakian’s ruling violated state and federal free speech protections.”

In the ruling, Judge Chris Garret wrote that Avakian’s order does not violate the Klein’s free speech rights because it simply “requires their compliance with a neutral law.” Garrett also wrote that the Kleins “have made no showing that the state targeted them for enforcement because of their religious beliefs.”

In a statement, Avakian said the Appeals Court ruling “sends a strong signal that Oregon remains open to all.”

The Kleins filed their appeal in April of 2016, claiming the judgment against them violated their religious freedom. 

READ: Almost Everything You’ve Heard About The Anti-Gay Sweet Cakes Wedding Cake Case Is (Probably) Wrong

The couple who simply wanted a wedding cake, Laurel Bowman and Rachel Cryer, “became the victims of death threats — as well as outrageous and horrific claims by conservative media outlets and anti-gay groups,” after filing their discrimination claim, as NCRM reported in 2015. 

The Statesman-Journal adds: “According to a brief filed by the civil rights organization Lambda Legal, when Bowman-Cryer’s mother returned to the bakery to reason with Aaron Klein, he called her daughter and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law ‘abominations.'”

RELATED STORIES:

Right Wing Furious at ‘Gay Mafia’ After Christian Couple Closes Bakery That Discriminated

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

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

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert

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A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.

The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.

“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”

“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”

Watch video below or at this link.

Image via Shutterstock

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Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

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One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.

Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.

Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.

Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.

READ MORE: 2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”

It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”

Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.

In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”

In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:

Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”

And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”

She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”

On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.

“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.

READ MORE: Listen: Stefanik-Endorsed GOP Candidate Praised ‘Inspirational’ Adolf Hitler as ‘The Kind of Leader We Need Today’

“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation

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Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.

Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.

READ MORE: DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.

Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.

MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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