Christian Florist Targeted by Gays Appeals to Supreme Court

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by Rodney Pelletier  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 17, 2017   

After losing in state court, Barronelle Stutzman to bring case to Supreme Court

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BELLEVUE, Wash. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A florist in Washington State is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court after battling state courts for the past four years over the LGBT agenda and religious liberty.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization that defends religious liberty, announced on July 14 that after suffering defeats in state courts Stutzman is appealing the Supreme Court.


The decision comes after the High Court recently agreed to hear the case of a Colorado baker sued for refusing to bake cakes for a same-sex wedding.

Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richmond, Washington, was sued in 2015 by Robert Ingersoll and his homosexual partner because she refused, on grounds of her Christian faith, to make flower arrangements for their wedding.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offered to drop the case if she donated $5,000 to an LGBT activist group, publicly apologized and promised to stop refusing customers. The Washington attorney general offered to settle the second case for a $2,000 penalty, a $1 fine and, again, a promise to stop refusing customers.

Stutzman refused the deals, saying she could not compromise her Christian faith. The court ruled against her in both cases, imposing fines and attorney's' fees.

Supporters donated $174,000, using the online fundraiser GoFundMe to help Stutzman with legal costs, but after LGBT activists complained to the company, GoFundMe canceled the donations, claiming that her efforts violated a newly enacted ban on campaigns that defend against "claims of discriminatory acts."

Her attorney, Kristen Waggoner with Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a brief with the state supreme court, offering oral arguments on November 15 to appeal the two lower court rulings.

"This case is about the government forcing her to participate in an event and promote ideas against her will under the threat of punishment," Waggoner argued. "She stands to lose everything simply for declining to promote the state-approved meaning of marriage."

Stutzman commented:

If you're not a person of faith, that may sound odd. But Rob [Ingersoll] said he understood, and I took him at his word. He may not have shared my beliefs, but he knew I genuinely cared about him. I still do, and I miss him coming into the shop. But the state is trying to use his case to force me to create artistic expressions that violate my deepest beliefs. It's moving to dissolve my most precious freedom, erode my life's work and savings and take away the financial security of those who work with me.

She offered a warning to others. "Does anyone really believe that a government that gives itself the power to force people to believe (and not believe) things and can order artists to create state-sanctioned messages will only use that power to bend one small-town florist to its will — and then leave everyone else alone?"
 

 

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Rodney Pelletier

Rodney Pelletier is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Rodney on Twitter: @RodPelletier