Washington Supreme Court To Hear Case of Florist Fined For Declining ‘Gay Wedding’
A Washington florist who was fined for refusing to fulfill an order for a gay wedding will have her religious freedom case go before the state’s supreme court.
Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, was ordered to pay a fine for refusing to make a floral arrangement for a same-sex marriage ceremony in 2013.
Stutzman argues that making the floral arrangement would violate her religious beliefs and convictions.
“This case is not about refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation or dislike for another person who is preciously created in God’s image,” Stutzman wrote to The Seattle Times in November.
Stutzman explained that Robert Ingersoll has been a long-time customer when he and his partner, Curt Freed, approached her with the request.
“I sold flowers to Rob for years. I helped him find someone else to design his wedding arrangements…and I count him as a friend.”
“I want to believe that a state as diverse as Washington, with our long commitment to personal and religious freedoms, would be as willing to honor my right to make those kinds of choices as it is to honor Rob’s right to make his,” she added.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty group, is defending Stutzman.
“Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner.
“We hope the Washington Supreme Court will affirm the broad protections that both the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution afford to freedom of speech and conscience.”
Stutzman faces the threat of losing her house and life savings because she was deemed to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
“No one should face personal and professional ruin simply for exercising these foundational freedoms,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.
ADF filed a brief last month with the high court explaining that the case boils down to one question.
“Is there room in our tolerant, diverse, and freedom-loving society for people with different views about the nature of marriage to establish their ‘religious (or nonreligious) self-definition in the political, civic, and economic life of our larger community…?”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington attorney general answered “no.”
“The trial court’s view that there can never be a free speech exception to public accommodation laws—endangers everyone,” the brief continued. “No speaker could exercise esthetic or moral judgments about what projects to take on where a customer claims the decision infringes on his or her rights under the Washington Law Under Discrimination.”
“Americans clearly oppose unjust government actions that force people to create expression against their will,” added Tedesco.
Report via CBN News
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