Barronelle Stutzman is still waiting for justice.
In 2013, Barronelle’s longtime customer and friend, Rob Ingersoll, asked her to create floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding. Because of Barronelle’s religious beliefs about marriage, she respectfully declined.
For over five years now, Barronelle has been battling the state of Washington in court because of that decision to live consistently with her beliefs.
This past June, the Supreme Court of the United States sent Barronelle’s case back to the Washington Supreme Court to be reconsidered in light of its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Now, the Washington Supreme Court will review Barronelle’s case again. Tuesday, Barronelle’s attorneys filed their opening brief. Here are three important takeaways.
1. Barronelle serves everyone. She just does not create art celebrating all events.
Barronelle serves everyone. She just cannot use her artistic talents to celebrate events contrary to her deepest beliefs. Barronelle created floral arrangements for her friend and customer Rob for nearly a decade, and she would gladly serve him today if he walked into her store. But because of her religious beliefs about marriage, Barronelle cannot use her artistic talents to participate in or create art celebrating same-sex weddings.
2. The Supreme Court has ruled that government hostility towards people of faith has no place in our society.
In June, the Supreme Court found that the state of Colorado violated the religious freedom of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, by acting with hostility toward his religious beliefs about marriage. Jack declined to design a custom wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage because doing so would violate his beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Supreme Court that “The [Colorado Civil Rights] Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
3. The Attorney General of Washington targeted Barronelle for her religious beliefs.
The Washington State Attorney General heard about Barronelle’s religious conflict from media coverage. And even though no one filed a formal complaint against her, the Attorney General used unprecedented measures to sue Barronelle not just as a representative of her business, but also in her personal capacity. Since then, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also sued Barronelle. Now, if Barronelle loses her case, she is at risk of losing everything—her home, her life’s savings, everything. This all because Barronelle holds a religious view of marriage that some state officials disagree with.
Barronelle has waited a long time for justice—and the case against her still threatens to take away all she owns. Now, the Supreme Court of Washington has an opportunity to make things right by affirming Barronelle’s freedom to live and work consistently with her religious beliefs about marriage.