Today the Washington State Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, the florist that chose not to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony by making floral arrangements for a customer she served for over nine years. The court concluded that the government can force citizens to create artistic expression and participate in events with which they disagree. Barronelle’s case is now being appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
As said in the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling:
“The State of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case-refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding-constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).
We also hold that the WLAD may be enforced against Stutzman because it does not infringe any constitutional protection.
As applied in this case, the WLAD does not compel speech or association. And assuming that it substantially burdens Stutzman’s religious free exercise, the WLAD does not violate her right to religious free exercise under either the First Amendment or article I, section 11 because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.”
Barronelle Stutzman has this to say:
“Rob Ingersoll and I have been friends since very nearly the first time he walked into my shop all those years ago. There was never an issue with his being gay, just as there hasn’t been with any of my other customers or employees. He just enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. But now the state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ. I’m not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn’t promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference.”
Currently, Pennsylvania does not have the special status of “sexual orientation” added to our state law that Washington State currently has. PA State Representative Dan Frankel has announced his sponsorship of such legislation to be introduced soon.
Government should protect freedom, not take it away. If the government can do this to a 72-year-old grandmother, they can do it to anyone.
- To receive updates from PA Family Institute on issues like this that may come up in Pennsylvania, click here.
- For more about Barronelle’s story, go to LetFreedomBloom.org.