A crowdfunding campaign that had raised more than $109,000 for the Christian-owned bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon was removed Saturday after complaints from gay-rights advocates.
The website GoFundMe said in a statement Saturday that it took down the page because the campaign violated the policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”
“The campaign entitled ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa‘ involves formal charges. As such, our team has determined that it was in violation of GoFundMe’s Terms & Conditions,” said GoFundMe in an email statement.
“The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal,” said GoFundMe.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries proposed a damages award Friday of $135,000 against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the bakery, after they were found in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination law in February.
The Kleins had declined to provide a wedding cake in 2013 for a same-sex marriage ceremony. The award, which is not final, would provide $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination.”
The crowdfunding campaign launched shortly after the award was announced Friday afternoon by Mark Kost. The site had collected more than $109,000 in less than eight hours.
But foes of the couple, led by Lisa Watson of Oregon, said on Facebook that they had urged GoFundMe to remove the crowdfunding page.
“Lisa Watson of Cupcake Jones started her own campaign to contact GoFundMe and report the campaign as being in violation of their terms of service,” said the website GoLocalPDX in a Saturday post.
“Watson’s own post on Facebook stated, ‘this business has been found GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION and is being allowed to fundraise to pay their penalty. The gofundme terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity, and sexism among other things in their campaign … The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,’” said the website.
In a Saturday post on her Facebook page, Ms. Watson said, “I can’t believe we just did that,” while Brent J. Blackwell commented, “I complained three times and got my family in on it too!”
“Seriously in tears! Good work Watson and everyone who spoke up!” said Ryan Wayman in a comment on her page.
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