Posts

LGBT Community Defends Arlene’s Flowers

Earlier this week, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, appeared on the Kelly File to discuss the lawsuit brought against her by Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, when she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

She has recently declined the Attorney General’s settlement offer that would have ended the litigation if she agreed to pay a $2,001 fine and agree to surrender the right to make business decisions consistent with her beliefs.

What might be surprising is the amount of support for Mrs. Stutzman from the gay community on the on the Kelly File Facebook page discussing this case.  Here is just a sample of the comments.

16

17

14

12

11

18

9

7

6

 

 

 

10

4

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The political leadership of the LGBT movement wants to convince the world that the debate over conscience rights and religious freedom is a debate between those who hate gay people and those who don’t.

In reality, its a debate between those who hate freedom and those who don’t.

Broken Promises on Religious Freedom

Back in 2012, when the Washington State legislature was debating a same-sex marriage law, supporters assured the public at every opportunity that there was absolutely, positively, promise to God, cross my heart and hope to die, no risk to religious freedom.

Senator Marko Liias was in the House of Representatives at the time.  Here’s what he said about the impact of religious freedom on same-sex marriage.

In light of these unambiguous comments, Marko Liias should be sponsoring legislation to protect businesses like Arlene’s Flowers from the lawsuits he promised us would never happen.  Contact Sen. Liias and the rest of your state legislators and urge them to do what they said they were going to do in the first place…protect conscience rights and religious freedom.  You can call them through the legislative hotline number at 1-800-562-6000 or email them here. 

Arlene’s Flowers Response to Attorney General’s Settlement Offer

After a ruling this week that Arlene’s Flowers violated the law by declining to decorate for a same-sex ceremony, Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who initiated the legal action against the grandmother and small business owner, offered a settlement of $2,001 if she would agree no longer do any weddings and not to appeal the ruling.

Below is the response to the offer from Mrs. Stutzman:


Picture1ARLENE’S FLOWERS
1177 Lee Blvd.
Richland, WA 99352

February 20, 2015

 

 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson
1125 Washington St. SE
P.O. Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504

 

Re: State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Barronelle Stutzman

 

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

Thank you for reaching out and making an offer to settle your case against me.

As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years.  I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal. Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.

Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver.  That is something I will not do.

I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process. Thanks again for writing and I hope you will consider my offer.

 

Sincerely,

Barronelle Stutzman

 


 

To share your thoughts with the Attorney General on his lawsuit and the settlement offer, call his office at 360-753-6200 or contact him here.*

Honor Mrs. Stutzman by being respectful, but please be heard.

 

Judge Rules Against Arlene’s Flowers

In a decision that has significant implications for business owners who hold the historic view on issues of marriage and sexuality, a Benton County Superior Court Judge ruled yesterday that it is illegal to refer business for same-sex ceremonies if you are willing to provide business for any wedding.

Judge Alex Eckstrom ruled that Arlene’s Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, violated Washington State’s non-discrimination law when she declined to provide floral services for a long-time customer.

As a result, both the business and personal assets of Barronelle Stutzman are at risk of state seizure.

In his ruling, the judge quickly dismissed the idea that the First Amendment’s guarantee to the free exercise of religion protected Arlene’s Flowers.

In support of his conclusion that the non-discrimination law trumps whatever protections the First Amendment might have once offered, he favorably cited the recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled that being forced to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony was the “price of citizenship.”

The judge also rejected the argument that the Washington State Constitution’s conscience protections offered any relief.

The State Constitution says that “[a]bsolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual….”

However, the judge concluded that the state could force businesses to choose between their faith and business because the state can restrict religious practices “inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.”

Apparently, declining to be part of a same-sex wedding is now “inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.”

While the founders came to this country to flee religious oppression, the court has essentially said that anyone who holds to the historical understanding of marriage and sexuality may not be in the wedding industry.

A couple points to keep in mind with all of this.

Arlene’s Flowers did not and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. She happily serves people who identify as gay, including the customers involved in this incident for nine years.

This was an event that she did not want to be part of.

Opponents of conscience rights argue that if she’s allowed not to be part of a same-sex ceremony that “White’s Only” signs will start appearing in store windows throughout the land.

Here’s the difference.

She objected to the service being requested, not the person requesting the service.

It’s a big difference.

It’s the difference between having a “White’s Only” sign in your business and deciding not to print material for the Black Panthers because you don’t like what they’re about.

One is overt bigotry, the other is simply the ability to be yourself.

Yesterday’s decision is not the end of the story for Arlene’s Flowers. This decision will likely be appealed, and many subsequent decisions may be appealed as well. It could be years before there is a final resolution to this dispute.

However, the need for people to stand alongside Barronelle Stutzman and demonstrate to our government that she is not alone is critical.

Please call your legislators now at 1-800-562-6000 and tell them to act to protect religious freedom. You can also email them by clicking here. Have your friends do the same.

The legislature can solve this problem quickly if they are compelled to.

You can also call Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed this lawsuit at 360-753-6200.

Please be respectful in all your comments, but please be heard.

Some are passionately committed to creating a country in which diversity has been thrown on the ash heap of history.

Unless our commitment to preserving religious freedom and conscience rights exceeds their commitment to destroying them, we’ll lose. Just like Barronelle Stutzman did yesterday.