The Christian owners of a bakery in Oregon have been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for their refusal to bake a gay wedding cake. However, a crowdfunding site has reported a record $390,000 in donations to support Aaron and Melissa Klein.
According to the crowdfunding website Continue to Give, the original goal was to raise $150,000 for the Kleins to pay off any damages imposed by the state of Oregon. However, the goal has been surpassed by over 260 percent so far, which places them at $390,000 as of Tuesday.
"Every American should be free to live and work according to their faith without the government punishing them for doing so," Continue to Give wrote in the fundraiser's mission statement.
The crowdfunding website contended that the Kleins were fighting for the religious freedom of all Americans. According to the site, the fundraising efforts were set up because "they have been struggling financially ever since they were forced to close the doors of their bakery in 2013 as their income was basically cut in half."
"If they are forced to pay the damages to the lesbian couple they will be in much worse shape than they are now," Continue to Give wrote. "They are pioneers in standing strong for the Lord and have been very courageous and steadfast throughout this whole ordeal."
According to Elisha Fieldstadt of NBC News, court documents indicated that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered the Kleins to pay a total of $135,000 in damages to the lesbian couple "for emotional and mental suffering resulting from the denial of service." Continue to Give founder Jesse Wellhoefer told NBC News that it has raised the most money of any personal fundraiser on the site to date.
"Not only is our platform the perfect place for the Kleins to raise money, but we also appreciate the stand they are making for religious freedom," Wellhoefer said.
NBC News reported that the fund was set up in response to a fundraising page set up on popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe by the Kleins was shut down in May. GoFundMe allowed the Kleins to keep the amount raised on their page, but the site amended its "What's Not Allowed" section back in April to include "campaigns in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory 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," GoFundMe said in a statement.
In response, the Kleins told NBC News that they have no plans yet on how to use the funds, indicating that they are still facing "financial hardship" after shuttering their business for two years. In addition, other costs connected to their case could arise.
"We are humbled and thankful for the generosity and support of the American public," the Kleins said in a statement.