Over the course of their decade-long friendship, Rob Ingersoll spent more than $5,000 at Barronelle Stutzman’s Washington State florist shop, Arlene’s Flowers. Stutzman had known for some time that Ingersoll was gay, and that most of the orders she filled were for his partner. And there were no problems at all.
After marriage was redefined in Washington, Ingersoll and his partner decided to pursue civil marriage, and naturally he asked his friend, Barronelle, to put together all the floral arrangements needed for such an event. But just as she knew that he is gay, he knew that she is a devout Christian. And so it probably came as little surprise when Stutzman took his hands in hers and told him that her relationship with Jesus wouldn’t permit her to participate in his wedding. They hugged, and he went on his way.
That, as they say, should have been that. Two adults navigating their differences in peace, and remaining friends in the process. It’s what neighborliness is all about.
But then, through social media posts initiated by friends of the couple, the ACLU and the Washington attorney general heard about the episode, and they struck. Stutzman was hauled into court for having violated Washington’s non-discrimination law—similar to the proposed HB1510 / SB974 right here in Pennsylvania. After years of litigation, state courts have ruled against her, fining her $1,000 and finding her liable for “damages,” which could wipe out her business and personal finances.
Meanwhile, as you can see in the video below, Stutzman still says she “loves Rob” and would like to speak to him again someday. The law, and opportunistic enforcers of the law, have turned friends into antagonists. This is what will happen in Pennsylvania if HB1510 / SB974 is passed: agents of the government enforcing the contours of relationships, rather than the people themselves. And sincere religious believers will always end up on the wrong side. And there’s nothing fair about that.
Contact your senator and representative today to urge them to oppose HB1510 / SB974.