In a much anticipated decision, Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman was punished today by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington for operating her business peacefully and lovingly according to her firmly and sincerely held religious beliefs.
Barronelle is a 72 yea-old grandmother who operates her business, Arlene’s Flowers. She gladly serves every person in who walks in her doors irregardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or beliefs but cannot celebrate all events. According to Alliance Defending Freedom:
In particular, because of her beliefs about marriage, she cannot design custom floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding (although she would be happy to sell premade arrangements or raw flowers to couples planning such an event).
So while she has been glad to serve Rob Ingersoll, a gay man and one of her all-time favorite customers, for nearly a decade (and would be happy to continue doing so today), she could not use her artistic talents for one request—to create custom arrangements designed to celebrate his nuptials.
But the State of Washington (which first filed a lawsuit against Barronelle) and now the State’s highest court have declared illegal her practice of running her business consistently with her faith. Regardless of the fact that she has created dozens of floral arrangements for Rob, she must also produce artwork under circumstances that would violate her convictions.
Alliance Defending Freedom plans to appeal this decision to the United States Supreme Court. By this ruling, the state of Washington has not only punished Barronelle Stutzman, but in essence has also sent the message to all other Washingtonians who own their own businesses that they will likely be forced to participate in creative expressions – even if they conflict with religious beliefs.
If the state of Washington has their way, this 72 year-old grandmother will be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees racked up by the ACLU in prosecuting the case against her. For simply disagreeing with the state of Washington about marriage, the ACLU and the state of Washington have put at risk everything she owns. This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home.
Baronelle Stutzman said of today’s ruling, “Rob Ingersoll and I have been friends since very nearly the first time he walked into my shop all those years ago,” said Stutzman. “There was never an issue with his being gay, just as there hasn’t been with any of my other customers or employees. He just enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. But now the state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ. I’m not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn’t promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference.”
It’s wrong for the state to encroach on a person’s constitutional held rights by forcing them to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority. The state of Washington has sent a clear message in this decision that it is intent on crushing those who offer dissenting opinion or beliefs about marriage, despite our nation’s long-standing precedent of protecting the right to dissent.