The Washington Supreme Court ruled today that the government can force Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, to create floral arrangements for same-sex weddings or face heavy penalties.
Stutzman’s attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) argued that she was protected by the First Amendment.
“This case is about crushing dissent,” said Kristen Waggoner, ADF senior counsel. “In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist. It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.”
ADF is already making plans to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case points out the need for the Trump Administration to make good on its campaign promise to strengthen religious freedom. The President has the opportunity to sign an executive order doing just that, but so far has not done so.
“Signing the executive order would be a great first step,” said Autumn Leva, policy director for Family Policy Alliance. “Christians in our country should not risk losing their businesses, their homes or their life savings because the government insists on forcing them to choose between their livelihood and their faith. Without Congress passing laws to keep the government from discriminating, there will be a lot more cases just like Barronelle.”
Urge the President to sign the religious freedom executive order.
Attorney Alicia Berry, who formerly represented a florist in a religious freedom case, has announced she’s running for Superior Court Judge in Position 3 in Washington state. The seat is currently held by a judge who ruled against religious freedom.
In 2013, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Barronelle Stutzman and her business after she declined to create custom arrangements for a longtime customer’s same-sex wedding.
Judge Alexander Ekstrom ruled in favor of the government. Since Stutzman was sued in a personal and professional capacity, she is in danger of losing her business and her home if she is unsuccessful in her appeal.
“Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” Ekstrom wrote.
The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case. Berry said people have lost trust in the judicial system.
“This loss of trust in a fundamental government system,” she said in a statement, “designed to protect the people from oppressive government oversight and regulation needs to be addressed.”