PRESS RELEASE: SCOTUS Takes Power from the People — Redefines Marriage

OLYMPIA, WA – Today, under the case filed Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States imposed its will on the people when they mandated that all states re-define marriage directly and make their own marriage ruling.

Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) Executive Director Joseph Backholm made the following comments about the decision: 

“The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. Today, the Court stripped the people of that freedom. Government should not impose their beliefs on the people.

“Democracy matters and the vote of the people matters. The Court overrode the will of tens of millions of Americans in 31 states who successfully voted to preserve the millennia-old definition of marriage.”

Backholm also expressed concern about how this issue will affect religious liberty in America:

“People of faith should be able to live out their beliefs in the public square without being silenced to the four walls of their homes and churches. This decision poses a tremendous threat to religious liberties and will have future ramifications on schools, churches, non-profits, and private businesses.

“Today’s decision offers an opportunity to work together to advocate for strong marriage policy in the states and to ensure that the Government never penalizes a citizen or an institution who believes that marriage is the union between one man and one woman” concluded Backholm.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

A story out of Colorado this week demonstrates what many of us have been feeling for a while. When it comes to laws dealing with “gay stuff”, there really is no law. Only the preferences of the person making the decision.

You may have heard a story about Jack Phillips, a Denver baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop. After declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, The Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) found him in violation of state law and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training. They also ordered him to file quarterly reports with the state to see if he has turned away customers based on sexual orientation.

But there’s another case you may not have heard about.

In an apparent response to the Masterpiece Cakeshop dust up, a man named William Jack from Castle Rock, Colorado approached three bakeries (Azucar Bakery, Gateaux, and Le Bakery Sensual) and asked them to bake cakes critical of same-sex marriage.

In the case of Azucar Bakery, he requested a cake with two groomsmen holding hands in front of a cross with a red “X” over the image. The cake was also to include three statements “God hates sin. Psalm 45:7”, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2” and “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.”

To no one’s surprise, they declined.

In response, Mr. Jack filed his own complaint with the CCRC claiming that their refusal to bake the cake communicating his Christian opposition to homosexuality was discrimination based on creed; specifically his Christian faith.

Denying the charge of discrimination, the bakery claimed it refused to bake the cake because of the message not because of the religion of the person requesting it. They considered the message to be “discriminatory”.

In the end, the CCRC agreed with the bakery and concluded the refusal to bake the cake requested was not discrimination based on creed for three reasons.

First, they said the refusal was not because the person requesting it was a Christian but because the cake “included derogatory language and imagery.”

Second, they cited the fact that they had served Christians before as evidence that they don’t discriminate on the basis of creed.

Third, the bakery would also refuse to bake a cake that was critical of Christians.

If it feels like these are the same arguments that were made by Jack Phillips (and other businesses) who happily serve gay customers but are unwilling to be part of same-sex wedding, that’s because they are.

The CCRC summarized that, “ [T]he evidence demonstrates that the Respondent would have made a cake for the Charging Party for any event, celebration or occasion regardless of his creed. Instead, the Respondent’s denial was based on the explicit message that the Charging Party wished to include on the cakes, which the Respondent deemed as discriminatory.”

So, if the message on the cake is one you don’t agree with, you can decline. However, if the cake itself is a message you disagree with, you cannot decline.

That makes sense…to no one.

It is apparent that the CCRC sympathizes one perspective but not the other.

These arbitrary and contradictory results are the legal equivalent of the middle finger.

We’re in charge and you aren’t. That’s why.

Of course those bakeries should be free not to bake a cake that includes a message they disagree with. The problem is laws which permit people to act on one set of beliefs about a particular issue but deny people with the opposite opinion the same rights.

In fairness, arbitrary application of the laws based on the preferences of the person in power has been the norm not the exception throughout history.

But America has been an attempt to move away from that. It hasn’t been perfect, but despite abuses of power, we have aspired to create a world in which everyone is bound by the same laws in the same way.

As a result, we have worked to create a world in which people who were similarly situated could expect similar results in court.

Clearly, we have progressed beyond that. Because, you know…equality.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

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.