News Religious Liberty

Washington Court Rules Against Florist; Corporate Support for Accommodation Laws Undermines Religious Liberty

Yesterday’s ruling against a Washington florist by the state’s highest court illustrates the ultimate consequences of the left’s drive to implement sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) accommodation laws.

Since 2013, Barronelle Stutzman, the 72-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers, has faced persecution by LGBT activists, the ACLU, and the State of Washington because she operated her business in accordance with the teachings of her faith. Stutzman declined to participate in a same-sex wedding as doing so would compel her artistic expression to affirm an event that violates her convictions. For her brave stand, she is in the legal fight of her life that appears to be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Small business owners like Stutzman are most vulnerable the left’s attack on religious liberty as activist groups and their governmental allies seek to punish and make an example out of anyone who opposes their agenda. These same situations have played out in Oregon and Colorado in recent years because the LGBT movement ultimately seeks to punish private individuals and compel them celebrate the left’s agenda over their own values.

This is what makes the fights to implement religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs) and defeat SOGI accommodation laws, or the battles over so-called “bathroom bills,” critical. Furthermore, what has happened in Washington shows how the companies standing with LGBT activists in the fights over these measures are helping undermine protections for religious liberty. Just look at how corporations have been utilized to bully the State of North Carolina in the past year. By supporting legislation that implements certain accommodation mandates and eliminates protections for religious liberty, these companies help create he means by which business owners like Stutzman are persecuted.

To see the the companies funding the largest political organization leading the assault on religious liberty, visit our Human Rights Campaign (HRC) resource page here.

Do you want to get regular updates on which help fund liberal organizations like HRC and support liberal efforts to undermine religious liberty? Sign up for our newsletter here.

  • DT

    YEAAAAAAA! This is GREAT NEWS!!!

    Maybe 2nd Voters will one day learn that a person and a business are two different things, and as such, a business has no religion. What a business does have, is a license. To obtain that license, a business must agree to abide by the laws of a business.

    It’s the LAW that ultimately seeks to punish private individuals who break the law.

    What you 2nd Voters seem to want to do, is to stone homosexuals to death, outside the city gates. Is that the type of religious freedom you wish to be restored?

    What you call “religious liberty,” is correctly called “freedom to be a bigot.” You might wish to read up on the civil rights movement of the 60s. Because even though this was settled back then, looks like the bigots are at it again.

    Bless Your Hearts.

    • stonebreaker

      not a bigot, simply following God’s word. she had no choice.

      • DT

        Bless your heart.

        The reason one is intolerant toward those holding different opinions is irrelevant to the definition of the word bigot.

        The moment god kicked Lucifer–who was created most perfect in beauty and wisdom–out of heaven, he became a bigot. Yes, if you know how to read properly, you’ll discover your god is intolerant of others, and therefore, is s bigot.

      • glenbo

        >”she had no choice.”<
        Oh, but she does have choices. And she has already made one…to no longer offer her services to do weddings.
        How simple was that? Had she done that as soon as it became illegal to discriminate against gays, she would be in the clear. It's her own fault for making a poor choice.

        • TheKnowerseeker

          Hater, you will suffer from your own choices, both in this life and the next, the same as all others who have persecuted God’s children. Satan may be the ruler of this world, but God has said “Vengeance is mine.”; your time clock is ticking. If I had read this utterly hateful comment of yours first before the others, then I wouldn’t have bothered responding to your other posts; I would have just blocked you as I am doing now.

          You are no better than ISIS.

          • glenbo

            >”Satan may be the ruler of this world, but God has said “Vengeance is mine”<

            From composed to raging psychosis, in 3…2…
            Cue cuckoo clock sound byte now.

  • rtow

    (Moving comment.)

  • Jarhead

    Hopefully she has learned her lesson of how to price her services. All the problems could have been avoided by proper pricing.

  • Robin Patty

    She’s operating a business, not a religious institution. What if I decide that my business will follow my religions believes and not sell to blacks bases upon said religion?! I wouldn’t be a part of any such religion, but you should be able to see my point. Either ALL religious beliefs must be respected or none when it come s to a business.

    • Rob

      And who is the one to determine which activities are religious and non-religious? People of true faith usually do not draw a line between their business, personal, or religion. A true person of faith worships God every moment of the day in all that they do and where ever they are. The color of one’s skin is not synonymous with being homosexual. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, which God has clearly defined in the Bible as sinful.

      • glenbo

        >”The color of one’s skin is not synonymous with being
        homosexual.”” Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, which God has
        clearly defined in the Bible as sinful.”<

        Why should anyone believe the bible is true?

        Are sexual attractions a “choice?”
        Is religious affiliation a “choice?”

        • TheKnowerseeker

          And yet the legal issue isn’t even about “hating gay people”; it’s about the right to decline serving same-sex weddings. Get the story straight, fake news!

          • glenbo

            >”And yet the legal issue isn’t even about “hating gay people”; it’s about the right to decline serving same-sex weddings.”<
            So why would anyone demand this "right?"

      • Robin Patty

        The determination about which activities are religious and non-religious is a very good question, and I don’t have a very good answer. I wish that I did, but to for a business to discriminate against any sect of the population on religious grounds opens a huge legal question. I studied a little bit of law, mostly Constitutional law, when I was a political science major, but I’m far from a legal scholar. In that regard I’m mostly an autodidact, nothing more. But in the United States alone there are thousands of religions, many have their own text and their own god, so the determination of what is right and what is wrong in legal terms based upon a religious text is quite simply a theocracy and fortunately we don’t live in one of those. “People of faith” is a term normally associated with the Christian religion, but it’s only one of a wide variety in existence in the US; legal precedent trumps (no pun intended) religious beliefs in this country.

        As for homosexuality, it’s sinful in the Christian faith, but not in others. As bazaar as it sounds, some religions believe in more than 2 genders, that one I don’t get despite being a transsexual myself. There is nothing to say that I can’t create a church, call it the “Greater Neo-Nazi White Skinhead Gender Fluid Church of Loonacy” and worship according to whatever book or document that I want to make up. That one would be a weird one, but nonetheless, it would be a religion. Religion is based upon religious beliefs, not archaeological or historical records, nothing more. Going back to homosexuality, it’s not a “lifestyle choice” any more than being trans is a “lifestyle choice”. Both are medical facts. If you don’t believe me than go to the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association and do some research. The former is composed of people primarily with PhDs and the later with MDs. They both follow and write a medical book called the DSM-5, the most current edition, based upon medical fact, not religious beliefs. They are learned people with the credentials to prove it, while the head of a religion can be anyone from a guy with a PhD to someone that has a grade school education.

        • X3Charlie

          You telling him to go to the APA is the same as telling you to go to the vatican. It’s an appeal to authority, not an argument.

          • glenbo

            >”You telling him to go to the APA is the same as telling
            you to go to the vatican. It’s an appeal to authority, not an argument.”<

            Your “authority” figure (God) is non-existent and strictly
            imaginary.

            I respect anyone's right to believe in whatever magical god one
            choose to believe in out of thousands, but I cannot respect you assuming and taking “authority” based ONLY upon the alleged dictates of your imaginary god in order to control those around you in society based only upon what exists only in your imagination.

            If you cannot demonstrate your “authority” figure exists and
            has merit, you hold an empty sack.

          • X3Charlie

            Evidence that god isn’t real?
            Also I’m not sure what the point of your reply is, I’m not interested in an argument about whether god exists or not and it’s irrelevant to the topic.

          • glenbo

            >>”It’s an appeal to authority, not an argument.”<<
            You said it's an "appeal to authority."
            What do you mean by that statement?

          • X3Charlie

            Appeal to authority is logical fallacy where you say that this person or group is an “expert” and since they’re an expert anything they say is correct, hence my Vatican example.

          • glenbo

            >>”Evidence that god isn’t real?”<<
            The burden on proof is upon the one making a claim…not on the one rejecting it.
            If denying gay people rights isn't about God, then what is it about?

          • X3Charlie

            I’m not making the claim you are.
            You said: ‘your god is non-existent’
            No rights are being denied to gay people here. There is no right to cake, or right to service unless there is a contract.

          • glenbo

            >>”the others you listed are sexual sins.”<<
            ??
            Are you saying that being denied service by Barronelle wasn't a violation of their rights?

          • X3Charlie

            I don’t know who you’re quoting but no. No one has the right to another person’s labor or service unless contractually obligated.

          • glenbo

            Okay, so if a Christian wearing a cross walks into my business, I as an atheist can turn him/her away?

          • X3Charlie

            Yes.

          • glenbo

            >>”I’m not making the claim you are.
            You said: ‘your god is non-existent'”<<
            If you aren't making any claim, what is your reason to deny gay people services?

          • X3Charlie

            Im not denying anyone service, I’m not even providing a service.

    • TheKnowerseeker

      Then you should have the right to do that. A business is not a government or “public” entity — especially not a privately owned one. (I feel that publicly traded corporations ride the fence, however.) Therefore, the owner of a privately owned business should be free to offer or decline their privately owned products or services to/from whomever they want. Government has been stealing from white racist business owners for decades by forcing them to serve black Americans; yes, it is immoral to be a racist private citizen but *not* unconstitutional, yet it *is* unconstitutional for the government to coerce and steal private property from that racist private citizen.

      Now they’re coercing and stealing from religious private citizens, which blatantly violates the 1st Amendment.

  • glenbo

    What harm would she have incurred if she just sold the damn flowers?
    How about not catering to weddings if your hatred outweighs your “Christian love.”
    Problem solved.
    The answer is NOT to throw an entire demographic group under a bus.
    The answer is to tailor one’s business practices.
    Selling flowers is NOT religious conduct.

    • Rob

      So your saying she must choose between her religion and her business? That doesn’t sound like the “Land of the Free” to me. Last I checked, the 1st Amendment of the Constitution restricts government from making any law that takes away our freedom of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This Washington law is a clear violation of our 1st Amendment rights since it did in fact make a law which prohibits individuals from the free exercise of their religion. “Hatred”? Do you really think this 72 year old woman did this out of hatred? If this woman is a true Christian then she was probably more concerned with the eternal destiny of this gay couple and felt that by not selling them flowers, this would communicate her care and concern with their chosen lifestyle of sin. That sounds more like true love than hatred. People of true faith usually do not draw a line between their business,
      personal, or religion. A true person of faith worships God every moment
      of the day in all that they do and where ever they are.

      • glenbo

        >” So your saying she must choose between her religion
        and her business?”””Congress shall make no law respecting an
        establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
        This Washington law is a clear violation of our 1st Amendment rights since it
        did in fact make a law which prohibits individuals from the free exercise of
        their religion. ” Do you really think this 72 year old woman did this
        out of hatred?””If this woman is a true Christian then she was probably
        more concerned with the eternal destiny of this gay couple and felt that by not
        selling them f lowers, this would communicate her care and concern with their
        chosen lifestyle of sin”<

        Nope. Not buying the “I love you, which is why I’m treating
        you like crap” defense.
        Her method of communicating “care and concern” is blatantly
        flawed. All she did was bring bad things to herself. She didn’t change the gay
        couple’s sexual orientation or prevent their marriage with rejection.
        Bad method and I’m not buying it.

        If you are trying to say she doesn’t want to enter Heaven
        with soiled hands, then she did the right thing by discontinuing doing weddings
        altogether, childish and selfish as it is. Smart move but she should have
        changed her business format as soon as same-sex marriage became legal. She will
        not be rewarded for her own bad judgment driven by greed. But if you want a
        free pass to discriminate against gays because of something non-existent that
        only exists in your imagination that can be widely abused, keep wishing because
        it ain’t gonna happen.

        If her non-existent imaginary god is more important, no
        sacrifice will be too great or small. Her problem is not homosexuals or them being
        treated with equality. Her problem is with the god she chooses to follow who
        teaches hate, so take it up with him. My advice to avoid problems with the law
        is to keep your problems and imaginary inner conflicts to yourself and don’t
        visit them on honest American taxpaying citizens who have done nothing wrong.

        • X3Charlie

          Ahh i see you don’t give a damn about people’s religious freedom, and your hatred for christian’s shine through your ever comment. Look just because you hate Christian’s and their beliefs on gay marriage doesn’t mean you get to tell them what they can do with their property and labor.

          • glenbo

            >”Ahh i see you don’t give a damn about people’s
            religious freedom, and your hatred for christian’s shine through your ever
            comment.”<

            No, sir. You are wrong.
            I do NOT “hate Christians.”
            What an absurd, presumptuous and unfair statement. My Mother is a
            Christian.
            My brother and cousin as well as many of my friends,
            clients, and employees Christians.
            None of my Christian relatives, friends, clients and
            employees are anti-gay, and NONE of them have ever accused me of “hating
            Christians.” Such nonsense.

            What I hate is BIGOTRY and the concept that anti-gay bigots
            think that they can tell others what they can or cannot do with their lives.

            Your “religious freedom” is intact. Your religious liberty
            does not give you the liberty to take away the liberty of your fellow man.

          • Venus

            So, forcing someone to perform for their fellow man is not taking away the 1st person’s liberties, but denying someone’s service to their fellow man is taking away their fellow man’s liberties.
            Right.

          • glenbo

            >”forcing someone to perform””denying someone’s service to their fellow man is taking away their fellow man’s liberties.”<
            It sure is. You are catching up!

          • Venus

            I’m sorry, you’re right. They weren’t forced to perform, just forced out of business for refusing to perform; bake a cake, produce flower arrangements, perform a wedding service, etc.

          • glenbo

            >”just forced out of business”<
            Wrong again.
            They were NEVER "forced" to do anything. They always had safe choices.
            They CHOSE to change their business formats ONLY to continue to practice their discriminatory prejudice legally.
            It was a remarkably simple and smart decision. A decision they should have made upon the onset of legal gay marriage, or the upon the onset of anti-discrimination law. While it is true that operating a business within the public marketplace will yield more profits than operating privately, as some are now doing from their home, operating within the public marketplace comes with restriction, compared to operating privately allowing them to do as they wish. If prejudice against gays is more important than profits, they made the correct choice to remove their business from the public sphere. Simple.
            If one tests the legal system and gets into trouble, it's their own damn fault for exercising bad judgment and especially for ridiculous reasons as they have done.
            Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
            If I stick my hand into a bee's nest and get stung, should I blame the bees? The location? Or my stupid actions.
            Practicing discrimination, prejudice and bigotry when it is illegal to do so is akin to sticking your hand into the bee's nest.
            You have nobody to blame but yourself if you get stung.
            You have nobody to blame if you run your business like an idiot.

          • Venus

            “Your religious liberty
            does not give you the liberty to take away the liberties of your fellow man.”

            How does refusing to serve someone equate to taking away their liberties, but compelling someone to do what goes against their deepest values not take away their liberties?

          • glenbo

            >” How does refusing to serve someone equate to taking
            away their liberties””but compelling someone to do what goes against their deepest values not take away their liberties”<

            NOBODY IS BEING COMPELLED!!!!!
            Jesus Christ!!! Why are you going in circles?
            NOBODY has been "compelled to do ANYTHING.
            Are you drunk?

          • Venus

            No, I’m not drunk. I mistakenly thought you could be reasoned with.

          • glenbo

            >”I mistakenly thought you could be reasoned with.”<
            Well then, let's get back to reasoning.
            Who has been "compelled" to do what?

          • Venus

            I’ve said my peace.

          • glenbo

            >”I’ve said my peace.”<
            All you have said is something that is not true.

          • Charles II

            She did not ban the wedding. She did not prevent them from having flowers. She only informed them that she was not available to provide the flowers they wanted.

          • glenbo

            >” She only informed them that she was not available”<
            How did she word it?
            perhaps you can correct me. From what I understand, she said:
            “I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
            What part of her statement says that she's "unavailable?"

          • X3Charlie

            The “I can’t do your wedding” part.
            Are you ok? Your twisting of the concept of liberty is very odd. What you’re arguing is the same as saying the end of slavery took away the slaveholder’s liberty to use the other person on their plantation. You do not have right to have anyone service you. A business holds the right to serve or not serve anyone they please, it does not belong to you or the customer, it belongs to the business owner.

          • glenbo

            >>”You do not have right to have anyone service you. A business holds the right to serve or not serve anyone they please”<<
            DUDE!
            You are a N!gger hater's best friend!
            If I hate N!ggers, then by your assertion, I can just say: SORRY! No N!ggers in my place of business.
            Well said!
            The South shall rise again!
            Well said, Charlie. Well said!

    • TheKnowerseeker

      By her own statements, she never hated her homosexual customers; in fact, she thought that she had good business relations with them and welcomed their dollars as easily as any other customer. And, she thought that *they* looked cordially upon *her*. (Boy was she mistaken.)

      What do you think is the takeaway from how her friendliness has been repaid?

      • glenbo

        >”What do you think is the takeaway from how her friendliness has been repaid?”<
        How is saying "I don't do wedding for you gay people" friendly?
        Boy, were they mistaken.

    • Charles II

      She merely told the person she was not available for their ceremony.
      Would your anti religious freedom opinion be the same if a Kosher deli turned away a person demanding that they sell pork?

  • Rob

    Our country was founded on religious freedom. Laws like this one undermine our freedom to worship God as He has commanded. It’s not just selling flowers. As a florist for a gay wedding, she is asked to be a part of the wedding celebration with her flower arrangements. As an American in the Land of the Free, she should have the freedom to worship and conduct her business in a way that honors God.

    • glenbo

      >”As a florist for a gay wedding, she is asked to be a
      part of the wedding celebration with her flower arrangements. “”As an American in the Land of the Free, she should have
      the freedom to worship and conduct her business in a way that honors God.”<

      She does and you do. What more do you require?
      Selling flowers and cakes is NOT religious conduct. You,
      like the AFA and FRC are making stuff up.

      • TheKnowerseeker

        1. Flower arrangements are works of art. No one should be forced to create art they disagree with or for occasions that they disagree with. Now if the art was mass produced, and not hand arranged or handmade for the occasion, then you might have a point.

        2. The First Amendment gives us freedom of religious *practice*. With Christianity, that practice includes what you choose to do with your body and your time. It is against Christian doctrine to do anything that encourages others to commit sins, like homosexual behavior. Contributing towards a same-sex “wedding” encourages homosexual behavior from the participants and others.

        3. It is not anti-freedom to support the restricting of others’ libertinism. Is it anti-freedom to support laws against public nudity, for instance? If you think so, then you’re just anti-decency.

        • glenbo

          >”1. Flower arrangements are works of art. No one should
          be forced to create art they disagree with or for occasions that they disagree
          with.””2a. The First Amendment gives us freedom of religious
          *practice*. With Christianity, that practice includes what you choose to do
          with your body and your time.””2b. It is against Christian doctrine to do anything
          that encourages others to commit sins””2c. Contributing towards a same-sex “wedding”
          encourages homosexual behavior from the participants and others.””3. It is not anti-freedom to support the restricting of
          others’ libertinism.”<

          Actions do not translate into beliefs, nor do they represent
          beliefs.