In Oregon, a bride-to-be and her mother went to Sweet Cakes to order the wedding cake.
The owner asked the names of the couple. The bride-to-be gave two female names. That was it. The owners are Christian.
But the couple - Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer - made the "no" an issue - a legal one.
They argued to the OR Labor Commissioner that the bakery owners - Aaron and Melissa Klein - caused them emotional distress. They were awarded $135,000 in damages. The owners challenged that.
The owners' key argument was that they were artists. There were also two other considerations. The OR Bureau of Labor violated their rights to:
- Free speech
- Religious freedom
- Due process
Today, the appellate court upheld that ruling. Here are the details from media coverage.
The ruing sent the message that OR is open to all. The bakery has since been closed.
Anyone who has ever perceived themselves discriminated against because they were different can be emboldened by this legal saga. The next time we suspect that has happened we can consult with a regulatory agency or a lawyer about taking action.
The first time that happened to me was when I was five years old. Already a dark-skinned Italian, I returned from the summer at the Jersey shore even darker. In those days, little girls were given frizzy permanents.
The butcher in the new shop took a look at my sister and myself. He yelled to his brother in back the Yiddish word "Schvartze." That means "black girl or woman." Because the neighborhood was multi-ethnic I knew Yiddish.
The brother came in front. The two debated in Yiddish if they should serve us. Eventually, they claimed there was no chicken available.
My sister told me that we should go to the newly opened A&P. In deep shame, we never explained to the family what had taken us so long.
The next crisis I hadn't forgotten. It was when I blew into all-women's Roman Catholic college in rural Pennsylvania - Seton Hill. It was from the mean streets of Jersey City, New Jersey. That was August 1963.
In August 2016, I had moved back to the general area - 90 miles from Seton Hill. My mission: healing.
The pain had been re-stimulated by what I experienced as a traumatic encounter with former classmate Kathleen Huebner in Arizona. There were also emotional upheavals with three other former classmates via Facebook and email.
I invested the first 14 weekends driving around Seton Hill in Greensburg, PA, reflecting.
Four times I visited the graveyard housing many of the nuns and administrators from that time.
It took that to forgive myself, finally, for being a victim. I'm adjusting to liking myself. Maybe the self-hate started with the butcher.
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