A 74-year-old Christian florist in Washington is fighting for her religious freedom by asking the Supreme Court to once again take up her case.
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, told a long-time gay customer that she could not arrange flowers for his wedding because of her religious convictions.
“We hugged and I told Rob about other florists he could use,” Stutzman shared with Fox News.
But several weeks later, the Attorney General with the ACLU sued Stutzman for refusing services.
“It was exceptionally hurtful to our clients,” Jack Ewart, attorney for the same-sex couple, said to K5 News. “And after thinking about it for some time, they got in touch with the ACLU of Washington, who got in touch with us. We filed a lawsuit under the Washington law against discrimination and the consumer protection act.”
The court agreed with the same-sex couple in 2017, as did the Washington Supreme Court when the decision was appealed. Stutzman appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but failed when the court pushed the case back to the state level. She’s trying again.
“Your religious liberty is in danger if I lose mine,” she wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News.
She continued: “In June, my state Supreme Court reaffirmed what it said just over two years ago: that I must use my skills as a creative professional to express messages and to celebrate and participate in events that violate my faith. And that’s why I’m appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court once again…[B]ecause I chose not to create custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding—a customer I considered a friend—I am required to pay the American Civil Liberties Union attorneys who are suing me. While the exact sum has not yet been determined, it will likely be so high as to cost me everything I’ve saved over my lifetime.”
Stutzman’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that this case is also about protecting everyone’s freedom of religion, including atheists who refuse to perform at a religious ceremony or a Republican writing a speech for a Democrat. The 47-year-old attorney also defended Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” she said.
The Supreme Court resumed session on the first Monday of October.
Photo courtesy: Artem Maltsev/Unsplash
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.