Christian florist to take her case to the US Supreme Court

A Christian florist who declined to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding will apply for her case to be heard at the US Supreme Court.

Barronelle Stutzman turned down the request in 2013 at Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, but was then sued by the two men involved.

A judgment handed down in 2015 ordered Stutzman to pay a $1,000 fine, alongside penalties and fees.

‘Unjust law’

Barronelle’s story is a case in point and shows us what an unjust law looks like.
Jim Campbell, ADF Senior Counsel

The ruling was upheld on appeal by Washington State Supreme Court in February.

Mrs Stutzman has now decided to take her case to the US Supreme Court and is being supported in her case by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty group.

ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said: “Barronelle’s story is a case in point and shows us what an unjust law looks like. It punishes conscientious individuals who love and serve all people but cannot create art celebrating a particular event, and it punishes them by threatening to strip their life savings and home.”

He asked: “How many more cases like Barronelle’s will it take until good people from all walks of life begin to speak up and oppose the source of these grave injustices?”

Religious freedom

The original incident took place in 2013, when Mrs Stutzman politely declined to provide flowers for a long-standing customer’s same-sex wedding.

She took Robert Ingersoll, whom she had known for nine years, by the hand and said: “I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Since Mrs Stutzman announced that she would be taking her case to the Supreme Court, ADF have set up a website asking for donations to “help Barronelle get justice”.

The website says: “Barronelle’s continuing struggle for religious freedom should be alarming not only to every Christian, but to every American who cherishes freedom.”

Ashers Baking Company

In the UK, the Ashers bakery case is an example of a Christian-run business that was taken to court for its refusal to promote views that went against its religious beliefs.

Ashers bakery lost its appeal after the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland ruled that it had discriminated against gay rights activist Gareth Lee by refusing to bake a cake with a message supporting same-sex marriage.

But despite losing the appeal, Ashers won decisively in the court of public opinion, as commentators across the political and social spectrum voiced support.

Free speech concerns

A Guardian editorial said the ruling “cannot be welcomed by anyone who cares about free speech”.

And homosexual rights and free speech campaigner Peter Tatchell called the verdict a “defeat for freedom of expression”.

He said, “in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. I am saddened that the court did not reach the same conclusion”.

Ashers Baking Company has applied to the UK Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Belfast Court of Appeal’s ruling.

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