Bakers fined over not supporting gay marriage, not for posting public information

Liberals claimed that the bakers who are being fined $135,000 for exercising their First Amendment rights are in fact being fined because they published a lesbian’s address and contact information.

First, let us note that the liberals admit that the bakers merely posted the message sent by the lesbian to the bakers and that it was the lesbian who didn't know that her messaging program tagged on her contact information.  Even if the liberals were right, they'd be saying that because the lesbian didn't know how her message system works, she's owed $135,000. 

However, under the law, the bakers had every right to reproduce the threatening message sent to them.

In any event, if you read the actual legal document condemning the bakers, it says:

The Agency's Formal Charges alleged that Respondents refused to make a wedding cake for two Complainants based on their sexual orientation and that Respondents published and displayed a communication to that effect in violation of ORS 659A.403 and ORS 659A.409.

The communication in question is problematic in the eyes of the Oregon bureaucrats, because it says that the bakers intend to exercise their First Amendment rights.  No mention is made of publishing the contact information for the lesbian – which, by the way, would be perfectly legal, since it's a matter of public record and since the lesbian sent it to the bakers in conjunction with the lesbian’s threats against the bakers.  Clearly it's not the responsibility of the bakers to know that the lesbian is unaware of what information she sends to people.

The legal document that condemns the bakers finds them guilty of violating the following law:

659A.409¹ 

Notice that discrimination will be made in place of public accommodation prohibited

• age exceptions

Except as provided by laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors and the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served, and except for special rates or services offered to persons 50 years of age or older, it is an unlawful practice for any person acting on behalf of any place of public accommodation as defined in ORS 659A.400 (Place of public accommodation defined) to publish, circulate, issue or display, or cause to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of the place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older. [Formerly 659.037; 2003 c.521 §3; 2005 c.131 §2; 2007 c.100 §7]

Note that this says nothing about posting private information.  It's all about the bakers saying they will not serve gay weddings.

The original source of this story has now posted a correction:

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a significant error that resulted from failure to distinguish the difference between the agency’s recommendation and the commissioner’s final ruling. The bakers were not, as previously reported, punished for threats by others against the couple, as the agency had recommended. They were ordered by the commissioner to pay damages to the couple for emotional harm caused by their unlawful discrimination. We regret the error, and we would like to thank Eugene Volokh for clarifying the distinction.

The corrected story can be found here.  Note that even after adding the correction, the website has not changed the misleading headline.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious, and feel free to follow him on Twitter.

Liberals claimed that the bakers who are being fined $135,000 for exercising their First Amendment rights are in fact being fined because they published a lesbian’s address and contact information.

First, let us note that the liberals admit that the bakers merely posted the message sent by the lesbian to the bakers and that it was the lesbian who didn't know that her messaging program tagged on her contact information.  Even if the liberals were right, they'd be saying that because the lesbian didn't know how her message system works, she's owed $135,000. 

However, under the law, the bakers had every right to reproduce the threatening message sent to them.

In any event, if you read the actual legal document condemning the bakers, it says:

The Agency's Formal Charges alleged that Respondents refused to make a wedding cake for two Complainants based on their sexual orientation and that Respondents published and displayed a communication to that effect in violation of ORS 659A.403 and ORS 659A.409.

The communication in question is problematic in the eyes of the Oregon bureaucrats, because it says that the bakers intend to exercise their First Amendment rights.  No mention is made of publishing the contact information for the lesbian – which, by the way, would be perfectly legal, since it's a matter of public record and since the lesbian sent it to the bakers in conjunction with the lesbian’s threats against the bakers.  Clearly it's not the responsibility of the bakers to know that the lesbian is unaware of what information she sends to people.

The legal document that condemns the bakers finds them guilty of violating the following law:

659A.409¹ 

Notice that discrimination will be made in place of public accommodation prohibited

• age exceptions

Except as provided by laws governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors and the frequenting by minors of places of public accommodation where alcoholic beverages are served, and except for special rates or services offered to persons 50 years of age or older, it is an unlawful practice for any person acting on behalf of any place of public accommodation as defined in ORS 659A.400 (Place of public accommodation defined) to publish, circulate, issue or display, or cause to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of the place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older. [Formerly 659.037; 2003 c.521 §3; 2005 c.131 §2; 2007 c.100 §7]

Note that this says nothing about posting private information.  It's all about the bakers saying they will not serve gay weddings.

The original source of this story has now posted a correction:

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a significant error that resulted from failure to distinguish the difference between the agency’s recommendation and the commissioner’s final ruling. The bakers were not, as previously reported, punished for threats by others against the couple, as the agency had recommended. They were ordered by the commissioner to pay damages to the couple for emotional harm caused by their unlawful discrimination. We regret the error, and we would like to thank Eugene Volokh for clarifying the distinction.

The corrected story can be found here.  Note that even after adding the correction, the website has not changed the misleading headline.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious, and feel free to follow him on Twitter.