In America, the state shouldn’t jeopardize your personal assets just because it disagrees with you.
Washington accused Barronelle of discrimination for declining to participate in and create flower arrangements for a long-time customer's same-sex wedding, because of her religious beliefs about marriage – she couldn’t use her talents to advance a concept of marriage that was not consistent with God’s design.
She is facing lawsuits from her customer, Rob Ingersoll, and his partner, as well as the state of Washington. Barronelle could lose her business. More than that though – her personal assets are at risk. Think about what that term means… according to TheLawDictionary.org it includes: “Any articles that possess value, such as real estate, cash, and jewelry, etc.”
A hearing is scheduled for December 5th to determine whether or not the Benton County Superior Court of Washington will allow the personal claims against Barronelle Stutzman to proceed.
Here’s three reasons that we believe they should not:
- Barronelle’s business was set up legally to protect her assets – that’s what corporations are designed to do. Washington law protects corporate officers (and business owners like Barronelle) personally except in instances where they knowingly committed acts of fraud, deception, or theft. Barronelle did none of those.
- Rob Ingersoll and his partner did not miss out on having flowers at their ceremony because Barronelle could not, as a matter of conscience, design them. In fact, they’ve received several offers for free flowers.
- Barronelle clearly did not discriminate against Ingersoll; she had created flower arrangements for him many times—she considered him a friend. In fact, Barronelle had served and employed numerous people who identify as homosexual over the course of the nearly 15 years she's owned Arlene's Flowers.
Why should Barronelle be at risk of losing her personal assets, and her entire business, which would leave her and her employees out of a job, simply because she has a different view on marriage than Ingersoll, his partner, and the Washington state attorney general?
That term “personal assets” seems pretty impersonal … but think about what it would mean for you. I shouldn’t risk losing my home, Ford Focus, or family heirlooms just because I have a different view than the state.
Mr. Ingersoll was offered free flowers. This gentle grandmother is basically being sued for all she owns. Does this sound like equality to you?
“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not intimidate citizens into speaking and acting contrary to their faith under threat of severe punishment,” said Kristen Waggoner, ADF senior legal counsel. “Plenty of other florists are willing to provide flowers for same-sex ceremonies, yet the state attorney general insists on going after not only her business, but her personal assets as well. It’s nothing more than a blatant attempt to strong-arm Barronelle into surrendering her freedom and livelihood.”
The personal claims against Barronelle are a gross abuse of power by the State of Washington and a clear act of retaliation.
Barronelle's case could set an alarming precedent for Christians who are living out their faith in their daily work. Please help spread the word about this case on social media and with your family and friends, and encourage them to take a stand against government officials who are trying to punish people for their faith.
Also, please be praying for Barronelle and for ADF attorneys and allied attorneys as this case moves forward.