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Devout Christian florist won’t pay fine

Devout Christian florist won’t pay fine

Barronelle Stutzman, 70, a Washington florist who was sued after refusing to provide flowers for a gay wedding, this week rejected the State Attorney General’s offer to settle the case by paying a fine of $2001.00.

Stutzman, proprietor of Arlene’s Flowers, claims the deal requires her to give up her religious freedom. In a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, she said:

As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years. I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal.

Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.

Washington’s constitution guarantees us ‘freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment’. I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.

Ferguson’s offer came after a Benton County Superior Court judge ruled on Wednesday against Stutzman, saying she had violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by declining service for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2013.

Stutzman’s attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom have said they will appeal the ruling, which could result in her being required to pay damages and attorneys’ fees both personally and on behalf of her business.

The settlement offer, which appeared in a news release on the Attorney General’s website, would require her to pay:

A penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation.

Ferguson said in the statement.

My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the Defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Before this case began, my office wrote to M. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.

Stutzman, described in one report as “a devout Southern Baptist”,  is adamant that she’s not homophobic, saying she has hired gay employees and served any number of gay customers over the years, but that her Christian beliefs prevent her from participating in a same-sex wedding.

Such services would include:

Custom design work to decorate the ceremony, delivery to the forum, staying at the ceremony to touch up arrangements, and assisting the wedding party.

gay-couple

One of the men who sued her, Robert Ingersoll, pictured above left with husband Curt Freed, had been a client for nearly a decade, she said.

Stutzman wrote in her letter:

I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case.
She concluded:

You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.

28 responses to “Devout Christian florist won’t pay fine”

  1. L.Long says:

    She is a devout follower of a dogmatic hate filled system.
    And I admire her courage to stick to her beliefs of hate-fear-bigotry toward others in the same way as I admire the KKK or ISIS, meaning she is a hate-filled pile of crap and they should double the fine and take her business license which she can have back after she she learns her lesson…probably never. Just cuz she is too terrified to follow the direct rule of her corrupt dogma just makes her mildly better then the KKK or ISIS.

  2. Laura Roberts says:

    I would say to her exactly what Ahmed Aboutaleb said to Muslims in his country: if you want to be a part of this country and abide by our constitution, you are welcome. If you want to follow your religion at the expense of our laws, then you can fuck off.

  3. That sense of entitlement to deny others basic human rights on the grounds that doing so is a basic human right. It takes religion to pervert the human mind that way and to provide an excuse for such arrogance.

    This ‘God-given’ entitlement to decide who should and who shouldn’t have human rights and who should and who shouldn’t be persecuted is the essence of fascism and is only a small step away from claiming a God-given right to decide who should breed and who shouldn’t and who should live and who shouldn’t.

    These are things religions were invented to provide excuses for.

  4. paul says:

    She can believe what she wants. She can pray 24/7. If she chooses not to do business with gays as I dont travel to mualim countries. She has to pay for the consequences. I for example won’t be able to see the original locations of 1001 nights, the pyramids, the dead sea, diving in the red sea, the grand canyon, etc.

  5. oliver says:

    “her Christian beliefs prevent her from participating in a same-sex wedding.”

    Where in the bible does it say you shouldn’t participate in a same-sex wedding?

  6. Bubblecar says:

    Looks like she’s revelling in the attention, which I suspect is her real motive.

  7. Wordwizard says:

    Paul—What do Muslim countries have to do with the Grand Canyon? That’s in the USA…

  8. SallyinMI says:

    The Hobby Lobby ruling created this mess. Religion has no place in our laws. The 10 Commandments are a pretty universal set of guidelines, as is the Golden Rule. But our constitution was based on neither. And she certainly can serve whom she pleases, but when she discriminates, that is against the law. So she will be held up by the right as a martyr for goodness over evil, for people over state, and on and on. Just because she refused to make floral arrangements for a man whom she insists is her friend? Please. She is against gay marriage, hides behind her Baptist Church, and sees no hypocrisy in denying her ‘friend’ flowers, which she insists is her calling from God? Honey, God made all of us. Sorry that we aren’t all white, Baptist and straight.

  9. sp says:

    Does she take this position with mixed race couples? Southern baptists were vehemently opposed to mixed race marriages. They loved them some KKK, though.

  10. Broga says:

    She sees her God, creator and ruler of the universe, as so petty, so concerned with such cosmic trivia that he would be troubled by her providing flowers for a same sex wedding.

  11. Daz says:

    I think we’d be better off all round if this rather vague ‘right to refuse service’ was defined better. Something along the lines of any business offering a service must provide that service to anyone who can pay, except in cases directly detrimental to the business, such as being able to bar known shoplifters from a shop.

  12. Marky Mark says:

    Southern Baptist! …well that says it all, they have been nothing but a nasty scar on this country for a long, long, time. Their the people who use to run around lynching black people in the south since the end of our civil war…What about their freedom?

    And it is still going on, last week three white young Mississippi men were sentenced to prison (one for life) for going out on a Saturday night hunting black people, finding and killing a black man that they attacked than ran over with their vehicle. Of coarse their minister wrote a letter to the Judge begging for leniency saying what good church going folk they are. The Judge (a black man) seen through it and handed down the appropriate sentence.

    Fact is, they learned that hatred from their church.

  13. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.’

    In other words, ‘my superstitious beliefs should be allowed to supersede absolutely everything else, including the law of the land and the rights of other people, and because you don’t agree that they should you are wrong and don’t understand anything, even though you are Attorney General.’

  14. AgentCormac says:

    OT, but does anybody remember a Freethinker article a little while ago about Kirk Cameron’s appalling ‘Saving Christmas’ movie, which sought to ‘put Christ where He has always been: at the center of our Christmas celebrations and traditions’ and other such inane bollocks?

    Well, apparently we weren’t the only ones to think this odious vanity piece was a laughable pile of crap. It has been a big winner at the annual Razzie Awards in Hollywood, picking up four accolades which include the prestigious award for Worst Actor, but best of all the one they all want to avoid, the award for Worst Picture. Well done Cameron, you loathsome little tosspot, I hope you’re so proud!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-31573655

  15. JohnMWhite says:

    I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal.

    It didn’t. Your god-given bigotry causing you to refuse service to other human beings, however, did. So stop lying for Jesus and grow up enough to live in a world where gay people exist.

    @Broga – well said. Believing in such a vicious and petty entity seems unhealthy. When I believed in such a thing I was unhealthy. It is an enormous mental strain to consider oneself to be always under cosmic scrutiny, while under a largely opposing social scrutiny that leads to bullshit like “I’m not homophobic” from someone who thinks ‘assisting’ in a same-sex wedding will lead her to eternal fire.

  16. jay says:

    Believing in such things is unhealthy. Invoking the state to punish when the same service is available down the street is also unhealthy.

  17. Broga says:

    @JohnMWhite; Your comment about “cosmic scrutiny” interests me. From a large extended family I have three relatives who are devout and proud Christians. I meet them occasionally. They always seem to be tense, concerned and judgemental.

    They see themselves as having “standards” and very ready to criticise those who behave in any way casually. They never seem to be able to relax and just enjoy themselves. I wonder if this is because they think everything they do is being observed by their God and they are perpetually under cosmic scrutiny.

  18. tonye says:

    And i’d thought that Pat Butcher would be more understanding………

    I’ll get my coat.

  19. Cali Ron says:

    @ Paul:
    The Grand Canyon? Last I checked America wasn’t a muslim country.

    @SallyinMI:
    Agreed. The Hobby Lobby ruling (judicial activism at it’s worst) has opened up a can of worms for the intolerant christians to exploit. Providing a service or selling a product to someone doesn’t make you complicit in anything they are doing or believe in. That shit doesn’t even make sense. A child can see the stupidity in that reasoning. If you sell gas to someone and then they run over someone with their car are you complicit? Of course not. I could do examples like that all day long, but I doubt anyone on this site is thick enough to need that.

  20. jay says:

    ” Providing a service or selling a product to someone doesn’t make you complicit in anything they are doing or believe in. ”

    [Side point: Actually, when it comes to crimes, the law does not always see it that way. If you rent a home to, or provide functional services to someone doing something illegal, you can be held criminally responsible. There’s currently a guy in Florida who is facing life without parole for lending his car to a roommate who wound up being involved in a murder.}

    Skip the religious issue. Why should anyone be required to enter into a contract for an obviously non-essential service, for any reason whatsoever? It defies sense, bu if she refused them service because they were Patriots fans, it would be legal.

    What I see is a lot of ugliness which doesn’t reflect well. Allegedly he claims he had been dealing with the shop for years, implying a certain degree of friendliness involved, and she decides, for whatever wacky reason that she doesn’t want to do this. Instead of realizing she’s a bit of an old nutter and accepting her right to be a nutter, and going to the florist down the street , he goes for the jugular with a big lawsuit. What is that other than vindictiveness? It’s ambulance chasing

    Live and let live works both ways.

  21. Barry Duke says:

    “She sees her God, creator and ruler of the universe, as so petty, so concerned with such cosmic trivia that he would be troubled by her providing flowers for a same sex wedding.”

    He, Broga? HE? God’s a WOMAN, don’t you know!

    http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/catholic-priest-who-died-for-48-minutes-claims-that-god-is-a-woman/

  22. Daz says:

    Which raises the question: If there’s only one of it, would God not be asexual?

  23. Cali Ron says:

    Maybe god’s a hermaphrodite, having both sexes. That would actually work with the whole “we are created in god’s image” thing.

    @Jay:
    good point. Funny, though, that gun manufacturers are never seem to be held responsible for the deaths the guns they sell. I think to be charged as an accomplice you have to have some sort of prior knowledge of intent.

  24. Cali Ron says:

    Just read my own post-better get some coffee (it’s early in the morning here). Not firing on all cylinders yet.

  25. JohnMWhite says:

    @Broga – I think you hit the nail on the head there. My mother and her aunts, all Irish Catholics, were of a similar ilk. Everything was tense all the time, every occasion frought with worry, because they always seemed to think that other people would be judging them because they certainly were judging other people. Weddings were an absolute nightmare because the whole family would be there, and imagine if there was a speck on someone’s shoe! It essentially drove them neurotic and almost got me killed because I was forced to attend a violent religious school because what would the neighbours think if our boy was homeschooled?

    I basically taught myself anyway since the staff were too busy dealing with endless fights and hyperactive shrieking… and that was just among themselves…

    @jay – No. This always crops up in these sorts of stories and certain people who have what I suppose is a libertarian (small l) mindset never seem to realise the ramifications of ‘live and let live’ when it comes to letting someone deny service to another person because they are gay, black, atheist, disabled or a pygmy. I could explain that while flowers may seem unnecessary, the simple fact occurs that if allowed to continue then a quasi-necessary service will do it to someone too. Then a gay man might find himself in a town where he can’t get an oil change in his broken down car, or can’t buy lunch, because he’s supposed to just put up with the fact that other people have decided his innate traits make him someone not to be served. Or you could just watch Selma, ffs.

  26. dennis says:

    she is just another paula deen .
    America is a place designed to be blind to our differences. A place where you can live and prosper, the golden rule as your guide and the technic was always “as to treat oneself” if I need this or that I should be able to buy it from any one selling it conversely if I sell it they should be able to buy from me. WE have really fallen short in this, but the millennials seem to be understand our constitution. I have hope for my grand kids taking us to the new frontier (ok, I am a child of the sixties)

  27. Robster says:

    This is a woman talking in public, doesn’t that nasty old book of hers specifically say that’s something those of the female gender should not do?

  28. karl says:

    Instead of raking this woman through the coals,have any of you “free-thinkers’said to yourselves,”why don’t the same sex couples got to a florist that are same sex owned?
    I am sure that somewhere in their town and in the USA,there are plenty of florists, bakers ,hair stylists or what have you that don’t need to make an example of someone who sticking to her moral (there’s a word that’s underused today)compass.
    Really how many of us want to be forced to do ANYTHING we don’t want to do or believe? We as humans will put a fight every time.