You have probably heard about “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” the Oregon bakery that was recently handed a $135,000 fine for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s 2013 commitment ceremony. The business was issued a “cease and desist” order by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which right-wing media outlets are now calling a “gag order.”
Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa, and owners Melissa and Aaron Klein, under Oregon’s 2007 Equality Act, which prohibits private businesses from discriminating against gay couples. As part of the ruling against the Kleins, they were issued a cease and desist order that calls upon them to refrain from advertising that they would refuse business services to anyone on the basis of sexual orientation. According to USA Today, the Kleins are free to talk about the case on Christian radio and tv shows.
Now, that cease and desist order has become a “gag order” to many on the right. On July 2, the same day the final ruling was issued, right-wing site The Daily Signal said that the ruling,
placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
Other sites picked up on that, and ran with their own versions of the “gag order” claim. Breitbart says,
Not content with trampling freedom of religion, Oregon authorities have now turned to freedom of speech, issuing a gag order to the Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa forbidding them from speaking or writing about their Christian beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.
The Daily Caller also refers to the “gag order,” just before quoting from the section of the ruling that proves it was not a gag order at all.
[Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad] Avakian went further in his ruling, slapping the Kleins with a gag order that prohibits them from voicing their opinions about same-sex marriage.
The cease and desist order merely prohibits the Kleins from saying publicly that they will not do business with homosexuals. That’s no different than a public business being prohibited from putting up a “whites only” sign. Here’s how Charlie Burr, Communications Director for the Bureau of Labor and Industries, explained it to Media Matters:
Our Final Order against Sweet Cakes by Melissa did not contain a gag order (as reported by Fox’s Todd Starnes, National Review, Daily Caller and others). It does contain damages for the same-sex couple denied service based on sexual orientation and also includes a cease and desist order directing the business to refrain from discriminating against future customers. That does not mean that the owners are prohibited from talking about the case or their opposition to Oregon anti-discrimination laws.
If right-wing media wasn’t able to distort the facts in order to tell their audience a totally false story, they would soon have to close down, because they wouldn’t have anything to talk about.
And, of course Fox News weighed in. Here’s how the issue was framed by Shannon Bream, on the July 5 edition of Fox News Sunday.
Featured image via SweetCakesWeb