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.

Ruling: Owner of Arlene’s Flowers Can Be Personally Liable

Yesterday, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Eckstrom ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, can be held personally liable in lawsuits that resulted from Arlene’s Flowers decision not to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the first lawsuit against the Richland grandmother but a second lawsuit was later filed by the ACLU on behalf of the customers. The lawsuits were brought not only against Arlene’s Flowers but also against Barronelle Stutzman personally.

Lawyers for Mrs. Stutzman had argued that it was inappropriate to sue her personally because it was a decision made in the operation of her business, but Judge Eckstrom disagreed.

As a result of this decision, the government can go after both the business assets of Arlene’s Flowers and personal assets of Barronelle Stutzman to collect attorney’s fees should their lawsuits prevail.

Responding to the ruling, Kristen Waggoner, an Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney for Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers said, “In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not intimidate citizens into speaking and acting contrary to their faith under threat of severe punishment.  The government is sending a clear message to Barronelle and the people of Washington: dare to disagree with the government, and you put your home, your family business, and your life savings at risk.”

Judge Eckstrom is expected to rule on a summary judgment motion in the next week.

Trial is currently scheduled for March 23rd.

The narrow question of personal liability in a specific lawsuit is not itself a conspiracy against conscience rights and religious freedom.

However, there is little doubt that the government’s ability to go after the personal assets of business owners who prefer not to be part of certain events will continue to chill the free exercise of religion that until recently was celebrated and protected in America.

Whatever the outcome of this specific case, the real solution is a state legislature that respects a marketplace of ideas that makes room for people of different backgrounds, faiths, and perspectives.

But the legislature won’t act unless the public insists on it.

If you are concerned that the government is suing grandmothers because of their beliefs about marriage and sexuality, please contact your state legislators and ask them to support protections for conscience rights and religious freedom. Then encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Every American is guaranteed the freedom to live and work faithfully.

The Washington State Attorney General is working hard to change that.

Don’t let him win.

Arlene’s Flowers: Summary of Friday’s Hearing

On Friday afternoon, Arlene’s Flowers and Barronelle Stutzman were in court responding to lawsuits from the Attorney General and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for declining to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

Supporters of Arlene’s Flowers file into the Benton County Courtroom

The courtroom was packed with members of the public, most of whom carried little red flowers indicating their support of Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers. Those who couldn’t fit inside the courtroom waited in the hallway and held signs outside the courthouse demonstrating their opposition to the lawsuit.

The court heard arguments on two separate motions, but no decision was made. Judge Alex Eckstrom promised a written decision but did not give a date.

The trial is scheduled to begin March 23rd.

Before every trial, lawyers file pre-trial motions that decide a variety of issues before a trial takes place, or, as in this case, could eliminate the need for a trial altogether.

Friday’s hearing involved two summary judgment motions from each side. A summary judgment motion is when one side essentially says, “judge you should rule in my favor now, we don’t even need a trial.”

The first motion was brought by Arlene’s Flower’s lawyers who argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the entire incident was essentially a miscommunication. During depositions, the customers stated that the only thing they wanted was to purchase twigs, sticks, flowers, and vases so they could decorate themselves. Mrs. Stutzman has stated consistently that if she had known that was all they wanted, she would happily have sold those things to the customers, and remains happy to do so in the future. But she was under the impression they wanted full wedding services, which she did not feel she could do.

The summary judgment motion brought by the government and ACLU argued that the judge should rule in favor of the state without a trial because by acknowledging that she is unwilling to provide full wedding services for same-sex ceremonies, Arlene’s Flowers has admitted discriminating based on sexual orientation.

In response, Arlene’s Flower’s argued that she did not and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. They cited the fact that she had a warm, friendly, customer relationship with the plaintiffs for nine years prior to the incident, while knowing they were in a same-sex relationship. They argued that her willingness to serve gay people generally, and even sell goods for a same-sex ceremony, indicates that she does not violate on the basis of sexual orientation, only that she is unwilling to celebrate a same-sex ceremony.

The State argued that forcing someone to choose between their job and their conscience is not a burden on the free exercise of religion or the freedom of speech, then argued that even if it is a burden on the freedom of religion, that burden is justified by the governments compelling interest in eliminating discrimination.

Lawyers for Arlene’s Flowers questioned how compelling that interest is by pointing out that in the eight years since sexual orientation was added to the non-discrimination statute, the state Human Rights Commission has not found a single instance of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Lawyers for Arlene’s Flowers also noted that Barronelle Stutzman has been the target of  dozens of profanity laced threats, including multiple death threats. No such record of attacks directed at the plaintiffs could be found.

For observers, this fact raises the legitimate question about who is more likely systematic discrimination and threats; the person in a same-sex relationship or the person unwilling to celebrate it.

Here are a few personal observations from the hearing.

First, this is a very important case for the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s office has assigned their best lawyers, including Solicitor General Noah Percell to argue one of the motions on behalf of the government. Typically, the Solicitor General does appellate work. But in light of the profile of this case and its importance to Bob Ferguson’s political career, he is already heavily investing the time of his best lawyers in the case.

Second, this is a very challenging assignment for Judge Eckstrom. Only a few months ago he was a prosecutor and has only recently been appointed to the bench. The record in this trial already includes thousands of pages of motions and documents and he does not even have a clerk to help write opinions or do research. While it’s difficult to know the significance of this fact, in three hours of argument he did not ask a single question challenging a legal argument by lawyers for the ACLU or the government. While respectful, he challenged the lawyers of Arlene’s Flowers on several occasions.

Third, this case is now much bigger than the people involved. Robert Ingersoll, the long-time customer and one-time friend of Barronelle Stutzman, on whose behalf these lawsuits have been filed sat quietly behind his lawyers. He stared at the floor while lawyers for Barronelle Stutzman read from his deposition when he talked about how warmly she had always treated him and how she cared about him as a person. He barely even looked at the lawyers who were supposedly arguing on his behalf.

You couldn’t help but get the impression that he doesn’t like being the tool political forces are using to make an example out of what he knows to be a very good woman. Pray for him.

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This story is far from written and because God is good and much smarter than we are, a lot will happen we can’t predict.

Thank you to those who showed up to support her. Please continue to call the Attorney General at 360-753-6200 and email your legislators  about this issue.

If you weren’t able to make it to the hearing, there will be more chances. This case will likely be in court for years and every time Barronelle is drug into court because of her convictions we need to be there standing with her. Bear one another’s burdes, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

We are all Barronelle Stutzman.

Responding to the Attorney General

Last week we wrote you about the fact that Attorney General Bob Ferguson is not only suing Arlene’s Flowers because of her decision not to decorate for a same-sex “wedding”, but is going after her personal assets as well.  We are encouraging you to contact Bob Ferguson’s office and also go to the Benton County Superior Courthouse this Friday, December 19th, to show your support for Barronelle Stutzman and conscience rights.

For those of you who did, you likely got a form letter response.  Several people asked how to respond, so below I have made some comments that I hope will help you continue the dialogue with the Attorney General:


Dear Concerned Washington Citizen,

Thank you for your message to Attorney General Bob Ferguson expressing your thoughts about the civil lawsuit our office filed against Arlene’s Flowers for violating the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.  I’ve been asked to respond on his behalf.

The Attorney General must enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Since 1973, the Consumer Protection Act has prohibited all businesses and business owners – regardless of personal religious beliefs –  from discriminating against their customers. In 2006, the Legislature amended the law to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides wedding flowers to opposite-sex couples, then it must provide wedding flowers to same-sex couples.

It is true that the Attorney General must enforce the laws of the state of Washington.  It is also true that a law was passed in 2006 which includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation.  The idea that a business must provide flowers to same-sex weddings is simply his opinion.  Arlene’s Flowers has served the gay couple involved in this case and has even employed gay people in the past.  This was not an issue of a business that discriminated against a class of people but instead a decision not to be part of a particular event that was inconsistent with the values of the business. She has, would, and continues to do business with people who identify as gay.  

The Attorney General’s Office first asked Ms. Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, to comply with state law by sending her a letter informing her of the law and asking her to formally agree to no longer discriminate against same-sex couples. Had she signed that agreement, she would not have been subject to any costs or fees. Instead, her lawyer sent us a letter stating Ms. Stutzman would fight any efforts to comply with the long-standing state law.  At that point, we filed a suit asking the court to order Ms. Stutzman to follow the law.

It is true that the Attorney General’s office sent a demand letter telling her to surrender her conscience rights and make a contribution to an organization that she did not philosophically support in order to avoid being sued. But like the lawsuit itself, that was also an act of harassment, bullying, and intimidation unbecoming of a public servant. 

The Attorney General’s position is in direct conflict with Section 11 of the Washington State constitution which guarantees “Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no on shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion;”   Contrary to the Attorney General’s position, the legislature does not have the authority to repeal sections of the State Constitution that do not comport with their desire to bully the world into being “more tolerant”.

Attorney General Ferguson respects people’s religious beliefs and personal opinions. As an individual, Ms. Stutzman has the right to religious freedom and expression of her beliefs.  However, as a business owner she must follow Washington state law which prohibits discrimination in the marketplace on the basis of sexual orientation-regardless of personal viewpoints.

Either Bob Ferguson is simply being dishonest about respecting religious freedom or he has redefined what religious freedom means. Religious freedom is more than simply the right to have beliefs inside your head.  It includes the right to make decisions in the real world on the basis of those beliefs.  His apparent understanding of religious freedom means that we are free to have our own thoughts as long as we only express them in church or our home. That is the opposite of religious freedom.

Businesses may reserve the right to require shoes or shirts. Similarly, they may refuse to serve someone who is drunk or disorderly. Under Washington state law, however, businesses may not discriminate on the basis of “race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or disability.”  There is no right to discrimination that a business can reserve.

Again, Arlene’s Flowers did not and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  They have demonstrated repeatedly that they are happy to serve people in same-sex relationships.  However, there are some events they are not comfortable being part of.  That should be anyone’s right.

Regardless, the letter implies that there is a right to be free from discrimination. While the sentiment is nice, not even Bob Ferguson really believes that.  After all, he allows people to discriminate against the shoeless and shirtless.  

His position is that the non-discrimination statute passed in 2006, repealed the Constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion, association, and the freedom of speech, which includes the right not to speak, if that is your preference.

That is beyond the legislature’s authority.

In this case, the Attorney General is saying that as a condition of being a flower shop that provides flowers for any kind of wedding, he can force you violate your religious beliefs, associate with activities you’d prefer not to associate with, and communicate messages through your work that violate your beliefs.

I hope this information is helpful in explaining why this office filed suit against Ms. Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers.

This information is helpful is explaining how the Attorney General believes the non-discrimination law from 2006 repealed a host of state and federal Constitutional rights.  But it does not justify his harassment of grandmothers who own small businesses.

 

Ellen M. Austin Hall
Office of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104


I hope this helps you work through this letter and maybe even inspires further dialogue with the Attorney General’s office.  Please be persistent.  Be respectful, but be persistent.

Don’t expect to change his mind soon because this lawsuit is about politics.  Deep down, the Attorney General probably even knows he’s being a bully.  Surely there are people in his family who share Barronelle Stutzman’s beliefs that he knows should not lose their home or business because of their beliefs.

But he hopes to be Governor one day and he has political interests he needs to please in order to make that happen. This is the path he has chosen.

For that reason, it is unlikely that he will be persuaded by arguments. But we should stand up for Barronelle because it is the right thing to do.

The permanent solution to this is a critical mass of people rising up to say, “Enough!”.  The legislature could put a stop to this through legislation clarifying that the non-discrimination law does not enable harassment like this.  But they won’t unless good policy also becomes good politics.

Demand better behavior from those we elect.  Remember, silence is consent.

Call the Attorney General at 360-753-6200 and email your legislators and encourage them to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.

What It If Was Your Grandma?

Next Friday, December 19th, at 1:30 pm, at the Benton County Superior Courthouse in Kennewick, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, will be in court. Along with lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, Barronelle will be defending herself against the lawsuit brought against her by Attorney General Bob Ferguson because she declined to decorate for a same-sex “wedding”.

The trial will begin early next year. Whatever the outcome of that trial, it is almost certain to be appealed. This case will likely not be over anytime soon.

But right now, they are deciding preliminary matters.

When the Attorney General Bob Ferguson decided to start suing grandmothers because of their beliefs about same-sex “marriage”, he did something unusual. He sued both Arlene’s Flowers as a business and Barronelle Stutzman personally.

If you’re not a lawyer, or if you’ve never been sued, the significance of this might not be immediately obvious. But it is significant.

If you buy a car that explodes because of a design defect, you would sue the company that made the car. You would not, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, sue the families who own stock in that car company.

One of the primary reasons to create a separate legal entity for a business is to protect the personal assets of the owners from the liabilities of the business.

Well, Bob Ferguson apparently thinks this case is exceptional, because he sued both the company (Arlene’s Flowers) and its owner (Barronelle Stutzman).

The significance of this will be felt in the event Mrs. Stutzman loses her lawsuit.

In lawsuits, the winner often collects legal fees.

In this case, the Attorney General’s Office would almost certainly try to be reimbursed for the expenses it incurred.

Since this case is likely to last years, you can be certain that the expenses will be several hundred thousand dollars.

But not all defendant’s have hundreds of thousands of dollars laying around in the event they lose a lawsuit, which is why, if you are suing someone, it’s helpful to have multiple defendants.

By suing both Arlene’s Flowers and Barronelle Stutzman, Bob Ferguson could not only seize all the company’s assets and bankrupt her business but, if the entire legal bill was not paid by the business assets, he could also go after the Stutzman family as well. He could take her house, her cars, her retirement, even her wedding ring.

Will he do that? Who knows. But having the option is the reason he sued her personally as well as her business.

Whether this is appropriate is one of the pre-trial issues that is being argued.

I hope reading about this bothers you.

For all that we think we’ve learned about tolerance and bigotry, this case just shows that it never actually goes anywhere, it just takes different forms.

I hope it bothers you enough to show up at the courthouse in Kennewick next Friday at 1:30 and support Barronelle Stutzman.

If you’re a pastor, show up and encourage your church to join you.

I hope it motivates you to call some friends and take them with you. I hope it motivates you to make a (respectful) phone call to Bob Ferguson’s office at 360-753-6200 and ask him to drop this lawsuit.

If we don’t intervene, she might lose everything she has because of what she believes about marriage.

We are all Barronelle Stutzman.

The legislature could act immediately to eliminate the basis of this lawsuit.

Why haven’t they?

Some of them like what is happening. They want people who disagree with them about marriage to lose their business and home for refusing to celebrate their sexuality with them.

But even those who don’t like it say they aren’t hearing from the public that they care about this issue.

That needs to change.

So right after you call Bob Ferguson, call your legislators at the legislative hotline 1-800-562-6000 and tell them to protect Arlene’s Flowers and the conscience rights of businesses. Then make plans to visit them in their office and tell them they need to start sticking up for grandmothers who are being bullied by the state.

Then show up at the courthouse next Friday, December 19th at 1:00. Let’s make a statement and show the judge and Attorney General how concerned we are by having 500 people showing up in favor of marriage, conscience rights, Arlene’s Flowers, and Barronelle Stutzman.

Silence is consent. Let’s stop being silent.

What if it was your grandma?

Conservative is the New Liberal

The left used to love offensive speech.
 
Profanity and flag burning were an indication that the people were free, they argued.  Of course its offensive, they told us, but we should all celebrate the fact that you have the right to do things that I find offensive.

Meanwhile, conservatives fought to keep books that were inappropriate for children off of classroom reading lists to the protest of liberals who accused them of being afraid of ideas different than their own. 

Conservatives also fought to keep the Ten Commandments in public schools to the objection of liberals who opposed the use of public dollars to impose a specific moral code that not everyone shared.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

If you fell into a coma 40 years ago and just woke up, you’d have a hard time figuring out who was who.

Now the left is protesting speakers on college campuses because of their beliefs or associations, trying to keep children from reading certain books in public schools, and organizing to get people fired from their jobs because of what they believe (see Brendan Eich, Alrenes’ Flowers, the Benham BrothersSweet Cakes by Melissa etc, etc, etc…).


Wait, don’t the liberals hate Joe McCarthy?

The left used to resent dogmatism.  They bristled at the assertion that any idea was impervious to critique.   

They mocked absolute statements like “God said” and understandably resented attempts to shut down debate with labels like “God hater” or “pervert”. But now they employ the same tactics with labels like “denier” and “bigot” and seek to end debate with absolute statements like “the science is settled”.

The god may be different, but the sentiment is not.   

Meanwhile, it is the conservatives who are now the proponents of laissez faire government.  “Live and let live,” they argue.  “You can have your same-sex relationships, just let us run our businesses the way we want.” “You can believe whatever you want, just don’t force your secular worldview onto our kids in school.”
Indeed, conservative is the new liberal.

The problem is, a lot people haven’t realized it yet.

Most liberals became liberals when liberalism was all about individual rights. They wanted to defend the minority from the oppression of the majority and objected to the idea that one person could tell another how they ought to live and what they ought to think. 

However, in their zeal, they became so attached to their team they stopped thinking about what their team represented in the first place and just kept rooting for them, regardless of what they did.

As a result, they didn’t even blink when the liberal activism meant threatening people’s livelihood if they said or did something “intolerant”.  They just kept cheering for the “good guys”.   

The same phenomenon happens in sports.  We’ll loudly cheer for a guy we booed only months before when he was on a different team.  It’s a kind of irrational attachment to a jersey without much concern for what it actually represents.

In sports it’s pretty benign.  But in policy, blind loyalty can be a problem.   

Fortunately, many on the left are starting to acknowledge the problems with calling yourself a liberal while demanding conformity to specific perspective as a condition of making a living. 

Because of that, I suspect there will be more opportunities to build coalitions that haven’t existed in quite some time; coalitions built around ideas rather than labels.  

Hopefully our friends on the left who share our interest in individual liberty won’t be scared away by the realization that conservative is the new liberal. 

Same-Sex “Marriage” & Obamacare: Similarities?

What do Obamacare and same-sex “marriage” have in common?  More than you might think.

In both cases, people created well intentioned policies that ignored immutable laws of the universe. In both cases, support was generated by intentionally withholding relevant information and accusing those who asked critical questions of wanting to harm their neighbors.

Of course we hope everyone will have high quality health care.

But Obamacare couldn’t deliver on its promises  because the idea that you can provide insurance for 30 million people who don’t currently have insurance, while reducing the cost of insurance for those who do have it by $2,500 a year, all while reducing the federal deficit violates economic realities.  Nothing is free.

Of course we don’t want the government telling people who they can form relationships with.

But same-sex “marriage” can’t succeed because it is based on premise that, with respect to marriage and parenting, men and women are interchangeable; a belief that is biologically, physiologically, hormonally, and neurologically false.

Still, unlike Obamacare, there has been a feeling, even in conservative circles, that same-sex “marriage” is here to stay.

Maybe that was presumptuous.

The now well chronicled ouster of Brendan Eich from his  job as CEO of Mozilla for making a 2008 contribution to California’s Proposition 8 campaign could be a watershed moment in this entire conversation.

Through his forced resignation, the tolerance assassins have (once again) served notice that if you want a high profile job in the private sector, you have to agree with them about marriage and sexuality-or at least never have done something public that would indicate otherwise.

It’s the kind of “accountability” that every totalitarian government adopts.

The public has soured on Obamacare because reality is not conforming to the promises made.

Could the same be true for the same-sex “marriage” movement as well?

Despite the fact that 33 states still define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, and only three states have voted for same-sex “marriage”, it is becoming increasingly obvious that America is being sold “power and control” under the guise of “love and commitment”.

Hey, if you like your religious freedom you can keep it.  Period.

The public didn’t come to a vigorous public defense of the florist and wedding photographers who were being sued because they didn’t want to be part of a same-sex “wedding” because most people aren’t florists or wedding photographers. .

But any of us could be Brendan Eich.

All he did was have an opinion. We all have those.

To their credit, some on the left are acknowledging that the leadership of the so-called gay rights movement have become the zealously, narrow-minded moralists they once despised.

Bill Maher, who is completely sympathetic to their policy goals, thinks Eich’s ousting is evidence of the fact that there is a gay mafia and if you cross them you get “whacked”.

Andrew Sullivan, a gay activist who helped pioneer the entire idea of “gay marriage” said, “the whole episode disgusts me.

As it should. Maybe it was the irony that triggered his gag reflex.

Only four weeks before Eich was forced to resign, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill protecting religious freedom because of left-wing hysteria that all the gay people would be fired for being gay.

When was the last time a group of right-wing, fundamentalist rallied together to get a gay person fired from their job?

I can’t think of anything either.

But we all know about Brendan Eich and Phil RobertsonFrank Turek and Craig James have similar stories.  They’re just the beginning of the list of people who have been fired or threatened to be fired because they expressed their views on marriage.

Then there is: Barronelle StutzmanElaine Hugenin, Melissa Klein, and Jack Phillips who have had their businesses threatened because they do not want to personally be involved in a same-sex “wedding” ceremony.

And remember Dan Cathy? They couldn’t really get him fired, since he’s the owner of Chick-fil-A, but they convulsed loudly enough in response to his opinion about marriage to basically make the franchise a symbol of the culture war.

America may be gullible, but we aren’t completely brain dead.

The homosexual lobby got where it is today by playing the victim.  But at some point, the narrative that “we’re firing all the bigots because we don’t want to be fired by all the bigots” won’t be taken seriously.

If they can’t play the victim, they can’t make people feel bad for asking questions.

And once people start thinking again, watch out.  Public opinion can be a fickle thing. Just ask Obamacare.

 

Your contribution of $5 or more helps us encourage a culture of life, marriage, and religious freedom in Washington State. 

 

Who to Blame for Arlene’s Flowers?

The story of Arlene’s Flowers, a Richland, Washington florist who declined the chance to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, has now garnered national attention.  Given the nature of the issue, it is likely to be a significant story for a long time. The situation is not entirely unusual.  Many other businesses and professionals have faced legal trouble because of their beliefs about marriage and homosexuality.

But this case is unique. Typically a disgruntled customer claims his civil rights are being violated and files a complaint with the state’s Human Rights Commission. In this case, Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, (360-753-6200) is taking it upon himself to sue a small business owner because her convictions about marriage prohibited her from being able to lend her services to a same-sex wedding ceremony involving long-time customers. 

One wonders what our founding fathers, many of whom left Europe to get away from a religious and philosophical litmus test for being involved in civil society, would think about the Attorney General’s apparent suggestion that you must agree with, or at least cooperate with, the government dogma regarding marriage as a condition of running a business.

Someone looking for a business idea might test just how strong the market for brown shirts actually is in Washington State. 

But who is really responsible?   

The most obvious target is the Attorney General himself.  He initiated the lawsuit and is using taxpayer resources to go after a small business owner with conviction about marriage that he does not share. 
But the attorney general has not acted alone here. During the debate over same-sex “marriage”, situations like this were foreseen. In an attempt to prevent them, amendments were offered in both the House and the Senate that would have clarified that an individual or a small business owner has the legal right to make decisions in their lives and businesses based on their beliefs about marriage without fear of legal consequences.

Those amendments were rejected.  In refusing to provide those legal protections, the legislature expressed their desire for precisely this kind of result; small businesses like Arlene’s Flowers will be faced with lawsuits because of who they are and what they believe.  Every state legislator who voted against the amendments to protect religious freedom and in support of the same-sex “marriage” bill is complicit as well.       

Who is responsible for how the legislature responds?  We are, of course.  If we dislike the fact that the Attorney General is acting at the prompting of the legislature to harass small business owners because they don’t embrace government dogma, then the people who put them into office to make decisions on our behalf need to evaluate how well they’re doing at supervising those who work for them.  

As the great philosopher Michael Jackson once wrote “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”  

Being upset isn’t enough.  We have to be willing to do something about it.  And the best way to do that is to make sure you remember Arlene’s Flowers when you vote next year.  If you vote for the people who supported the policies that led to this outcome, or don’t vote at all, you probably shouldn’t complain. 
 

WA Florist Sued for Beliefs About Marriage

Yesterday, newly elected Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against a florist in Richland, Washington because she declined to provide floral arrangements to a same-sex wedding ceremony. Arlene’s Flowers is a small business whose owner, Barronelle Stutzman, had served this customer for years.  She knew he was gay, and it was never an issue, because she’s happy to serve everybody.

But she isn’t willing to lend her services to every activity, and when it came to a same-sex wedding, she just couldn’t do it.   According to her statement, she explained herself, he said he respected it; they hugged and he left.

No one notified Ms. Stutzman that under the new regime, kindness and understanding, while holding true to your convictions, cannot be tolerated.  After all, we’re on a mission to make the world more tolerant.  

The suit asks the florist to promise to never again be so naughty and pay a fine of $2,000 for stepping out of line.  Should a pacifist web designer be fined for telling the National Rifle Association he would rather not design their website?  Should the Republican printer be required to print campaign literature for the Democrats?

During the debate over the redefinition of marriage last year in Washington State, proponents of natural marriage argued repeatedly that this was not simply about people having the opportunity to form relationships, but that redefining marriage had consequences for education, parental rights, and religious liberty.  Despite dozens of examples from around the country, they rolled their eyes.     

“This won’t make any difference for anyone except for the loving, committed couples who will no longer be treated as second class citizens,” they argued.

One wonders how many of those who assured us that no one would lose their liberty will come to the defense of Arlene’s Flowers.

Of course this lawsuit isn’t due exclusively to the redefinition of marriage.  The non-discrimination statute that this suit has been brought under existed previously.  It was bad then, it is bad now.  The difference, however, is this.  Now that the law says marriage is genderless, those who think otherwise are much more likely to be confronted with the Hobbesian choice to conform or be punished. 

This isn’t an isolated case.  All over the country photographers, court clerks, doctors, psychologists, bakers and others are facing a similar dilemma.  State and local governments have decided use their power to prevent people from violating government etiquette standards.

In the 1960’s, the liberals were fighting for the freedom to burn flags, protest, be profane, and generally express themselves in ways that they knew were offensive.   “I may not like what you say,” they shouted, “but I will defend to the death your right to say it!” Almost seems noble.
I miss liberals.

Back in the day, a liberal who was denied service from a business for reasons he didn’t appreciate might express his thoughts with his middle finger, which would be his right, but at the end of the day he would still appreciate the fact that in America people are free to be themselves even if he finds it annoying, inconvenient, or offensive. 

Now they believe they are legally entitled to someone else’s labor.       

There was a time, not that long ago, that you didn’t have to pledge allegiance to a certain political philosophy in order to have the right to the pursuit of happiness.  Let’s do that again.

Friends, you may not be a florist, and you may have made a different decision, but liberty is at stake for all of us.   Draw your line in the sand right here.  Don’t ignore the bully just because he hasn’t punched you in the mouth yet.   A small business owner is looking at years of litigation and huge legal expenses because she won’t bow to the political elites.  

Stand with Arlene’s Flowers.      

If you would like to be part of an effort to do something about this, please send an email to info@fpiw.org and let us know.  We will be helping to assemble Washington citizens to support this small business and communicate to our elected officials that this harassment is not being done with the consent of the governed.  

Then, forward this, like it, share it, etc… Someone needs to tell the boss what’s going on.