Washington Florist Loses Her Religious Liberty Court Case

Barronelle Stutzman, the florist in Washington who declined to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, has lost her court case. From World:

The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that florist Barronelle Stutzman violated a state anti-discrimination law in 2013 when she declined to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. The ruling also upholds the lower court decision making Stutzman personally liable, putting the 72-year-old grandmother in jeopardy of losing all business and personal assets except her home.

Stutzman’s attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In both trials of Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, they argued the Washington Law Against Discrimination compelled Stutzman to create floral arrangements in violation of her religious liberty, freedom of association, and free speech rights. But the state high court, in upholding the lower court decision, said her creative efforts constituted “conduct” not “speech” and the law “protects patrons, not business owners.”

“Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the justices wrote. 

The decision also leaves in place the earlier ruling that ordered Stutzman to pay all attorneys fees racked up during the four-year legal battle. That could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the American Civil Liberties Union, ADF said in a press statement.

It’s astounding to me that people can’t see the difference between denying someone service because of their sexual orientation and declining to participate in a particular event they disagree with. The two are not the same. For more on the difference between them, see “Refusing to Serve Individuals vs. Refusing to Participate in Events” as well as this LGBT activist who agrees that the distinction is valid and that it’s wrong for courts to require this kind of a violation of conscience. It’s atrocious that the government would force someone, at the risk of total financial ruin, to participate in an activity he or she thinks is wrong, and I’m perfectly willing to apply this principle to both sides of the aisle.

Learn more about the case and the court decision from Joe Carter’s post, and for an examination of the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) antidiscrimination laws, see Ryan Anderson’s “How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGI.”

Amy K. Hall

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