Local florist and small business owner Barronelle Stutzman suffered a setback Thursday when the Washington Supreme Court ruled against her for refusing to create the flower arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding, accusing the 72-year-old Christian of “sex orientation discrimination.”
Now, Stutzman is appealing her case to the Supreme Court.
You may recall Stutzman’s story from previous reports over the past couple of years. Currently the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, Stutzman was asked to provide the flowers for the same-sex wedding ceremony of one of her long-time customers, Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll had been one of her favorite customers and a long-time friend for nearly a decade, and she’d happily provided him with flower services throughout the years.
When he asked her to supply the arrangements for his wedding, however, she declined, explaining that while she was more than happy to sell him flowers as an individual, her Christian faith prevented her from participating in a ceremony that violated her beliefs. She then referred him to a few other local florists who would be willing to provide the flowers.
That decision quickly landed her in court in not one, but two separate cases, where she found herself targeted by both the state government and the ACLU.
Now, thanks to the state Supreme Court’s decision, Stutzman will be forced to use her life savings and put her business in jeopardy to pay penalties and attorney’s fees for allegedly discriminating against gays.
Stutzman is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal group that specializes in cases of religious freedom.
“Barronelle’s story demonstrates a troubling trend—governmental agencies and officials that have grown increasingly hostile to religious freedom, particularly the freedom of people who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” ADF said in a statement following the court decision Thursday.
The group also challenged President Donald Trump to make good on his promise to protect people who have been dragged into court simply for living their lives according to their faith.
“President Trump, who has promised to make religious liberty the “first priority” of his administration, has an opportunity to take a stand against the ongoing efforts to marginalize people of faith. Reports have surfaced suggesting that he is considering an executive order to protect religious freedom,” the group said in its statement.
“Signing such an order would send a strong message throughout the country—that people like Barronelle deserve religious freedom too,” ADF added.