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Arlene's Flowers FAQs

What happened anyway?
Arlene’s Flowers is a florist in Richland, Washington that was approached by long-time customers to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony. Arlene’s owner, Barronelle Stutzman, declined the opportunity explaining to the customer that her faith wouldn’t allow her to be part of that event. According to Ms. Stutzman, he said he respected her position and they parted on good terms.
Who is suing Arlene’s Flowers?
Most cases alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation originate with a disgruntled customer. This case is unique, however, because the lawsuit has been brought by Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson (360-753-6200), on behalf of the State of Washington. Arlene’s Flowers has been accused of violating of the state’s Consumer Protection Act, which exists to protect the public from unfair or fraudulent business practices. Further, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also suing Arlene's Flowers and it's owner, Barronelle Stutzman, after she refused to give in to their demands to apologize to the gay men, donate $5,000 to a gay community youth center, and relinquish her U.S. and State Constitutionally protected free exercise of religion among other liberties.
Who is paying for the lawsuit?
We are. The Attorney General is funded by the taxpayers, so this lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers is being funded by taxpayers. These are your tax dollars at work.
Is this because Washington redefined marriage to include same-sex “marriage”?
Yes and no. Prior to the redefinition of marriage in Washington, a state statute was enacted that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Cases like this have arisen in other states where marriage has not been redefined using similar non-discrimination statutes. However, redefining marriage made controversies like this much more likely to happen because the legal definition of marriage is now at odds with millions of Washingtonians beliefs about what marriage is.
Why shouldn’t Arlene’s Flowers have to provide services for a same-sex wedding?
The key issue is whether individuals should have the liberty to choose what their artistic, professional services are used for. Should a web designer be required to design a website for a cause he disagrees with? Should a print shop be required to print literature in violation of his beliefs? Should an artist be required to paint a picture that would be offensive to her simply because someone is willing to pay her? Artistic expression is a constitutionally recognized and protected form of speech. In the same way that your right to speak is protected by the First Amendment, so is your right not to speak. In this case, Arlene’s Flowers is simply choosing not to speak in this venue.
Isn’t this like separate lunch counters for blacks and whites during segregation?
No. This case illustrates the difference between discriminating based on sexual preference and making decisions based on your beliefs about marriage. A policy refusing to serve gay people under any circumstances would be discrimination based on sexual preference. That would also be like segregated lunch counters. In this case, however, Arlene’s Flowers had no such policy refusing to do business with gay people. In fact, they have employed gay people and had happily and knowingly served gay people for years without any claim of discrimination or hostility. However, this particular event was something they did not want to lend their artistic, professional services to because of their beliefs about what marriage is. You cannot have a policy refusing service to all Mexicans or Japanese people, but you cannot be compelled to do something you don’t wish to do simply because the person asking is Mexican or Japanese.
If they would do it for a straight wedding, isn’t their refusal to serve a gay wedding discrimination based on sexual orientation?
No. Should a business be forced to be part of a gay pride parade if asked to do so because the person is gay and wouldn’t be asking if he weren’t? Should a Muslim person be forced to lend their services to an Easter service because you can’t discriminate on the basis of religion and the person wouldn’t be asking if he weren’t Christian? The fact that a person happens to be part of a group covered by the non-discrimination statute does not mean it’s illegal to ever decline to do business with them. It just means that you can’t have a policy of refusing to deal with that class of person.

 WA Florist Sued for Beliefs About Marriage

Who to Blame for Arlene's Flowers?


HOW CAN I SUPPORT ARLENE'S FLOWERS?

1) Contribute to Arlene's Flowers Legal Defense Fund UPDATE:  We want to thank you so much for your tremendous support of Arlene’s Flowers through the legal defense fund.  People from all over the country have given thousands of dollars to help defray the legal costs involved with this lawsuit.  In the last week, our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom have stepped into the role as the lead attorney’s for Arlene’s Flowers. As a legal defense organization, they do all their legal work pro-bono.  Therefore, the on-going need to fund legal work has been dramatically reduced. There is local counsel who is also working on the case, and the funds that have already been contributed will be used for that purpose.  However, if you wish to make a contribution specifically to support the legal team of Arlene’s Flowers, please make a tax deductible contribution to the Alliance Defending Freedom

2) CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS at 800-562-6000 and ATTORNEY GENERAL BOB FERGUSON at 360-753-6200 to express your support of the constitutional rights of Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers:

 a. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution protects Americans from being forced by the government to advance ideas that violate their beliefs and has no business demanding that citizens abandon their faith in order to avoid fines and imprisonment.

Americans don’t have to surrender their beliefs in order to make a living, to provide jobs, and to serve their communities.

Arlene’s Flowers serves everyone in the community, but what it won’t do is violate the family’s biblical belief that marriage is defined only as a union of husband and wife.

b. Freedom of Speech

Artistic expression is a constitutionally recognized and protected form of speech.  In the same way that your right to speak is protected by the First Amendment, so is your right not to speak.  In this case, Arlene’s Flowers is simply choosing not to speak in this venue.

c. Freedom of Expression

A Christian artist should not be forced to promote homosexuality, just as a homosexual artist should not be forced by the state to promote Christianity.

An artist may by hired, but in America, an artist cannot be forced into involuntary servitude by the state.

d. Free Enterprise

America is supposed to be a free marketplace of ideas where citizens are able to express, live and work according to their beliefs. Family businesses are guaranteed the freedom to live and do business according to the family’s deepest beliefs.

3) HAND DELIVER AN ARLENE’S FLOWER to Attorney General Bob Ferguson at 1125 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA 98504.

4) WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR to share your thoughts about this issue with your local community.

5) CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE to create local support for free enterprise for business owners.

6) HOST A LOCAL ORGANIZING EVENT to discuss how to educate your elected officials, as well as your community, about the need for religious freedom protections in Washington State.

7) RECEIVE UPDATES AND INFORM YOUR FRIENDS across the state by subscribing to FPIW news and alerts at FPIW.org! Select “I want to join TEAM ARLENE” as your subscription interest.

8) BUY FLOWERS FROM ARLENE’S! 1177 Lee Blvd, Richland, WA 9935 (800) 692-0706 • www.arlenesflowers.net