A Washington state judge ruled that local floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers violated state law by refusing to provide floral design and arrangements for a long-time customer's same-sex ceremony. Not only is her business in jeopardy, but Barronelle also faces losing her home and life-savings to the opposing sides’ damages and attorneys’ fees associated with the lawsuit filed against her by both the state and the same-sex couple.
In a press release, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed a lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers, said, “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.”
He then offered a settlement deal of a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, and an agreement “not to discriminate” in the future.
In simple terms: I’ll take $2,001 and your religious freedom, please.
The attorney general seems more interested in making an example out of Barronelle at any cost in order to strong-arm Washington businesses and business owners into surrendering their religious freedom to the state.
But Barronelle will not be intimidated.
In a response to the settlement offer, she said:
“[This conflict] is 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.”
Barronelle‘s faith and freedom is not for sale.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner underlined Barronelle’s response:
“A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough, but a government that tells you what you must say is terrifying. The lesson from the court’s decisions is that you put your home, your family business, and your life savings at risk by daring to defy a government mandate that forces you to promote views you believe are wrong.”
Ultimately, Barronelle wants what everyone wants: The freedom to live out their religious beliefs without fear of punishment. “Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences,” she said.
ADF attorneys will appeal the ruling and continue to fight for Barronelle.
- Discuss it: Barronelle is a witness of faith in a profound way. Using her story as an example, discuss with your family, friends, or community what lengths you are willing to go to fight for your faith and religious freedom.
- Pray! Pray for Barronelle, her attorneys, and all involved in this case that they would continue to have the courage to stand up for religious freedom.
- Support the fight: Stand with us and support her fight for religious freedom.