“We are entering a whole new realm when we force people to express themselves and use their heart, their head and their hands to create something that violates who they are.”1
This quote, by Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, is from a case taking place in Washington State (current case, February 2015). Barronelle Stutzman, a grandmother, Christian, and small flower shop owner is currently embattled in a court case brought by the ACLU2, The State of Washington and it’s attorney general for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex marriage. Although the longtime clients didn’t sue, the ACLU and the state’s attorney general did.
Waggoner, in her client’s first interview, expressed that “…the attorney general took it [the case] on…[and] has relentlessly pursued Barronelle ever since…”
Waggoner then went on to say,”…If you dare to decline…the government will bring about your personal, and your professional ruin if you don’t help celebrate same sex marriage.”3
According to Fox News, “[Barronelle] Sutzman’s run-in with the government came about after what she thought was an innocent conversation with longtime customer Robert Ingersoll back in 2013.”4
Barronelle said she had done a lot of business with the customer prior to this. She also stated it was difficult to say no to doing the wedding. But, because she believed marriage was sacred and between a man and woman, she “couldn’t do his flowers and create something special for them because it was dishonoring Christ.” Barronelle stated she then explained why she couldn’t. She and her customer discussed his engagement, his mother, and then she recommended another florist who would do a good job for him. That florist did end up doing the wedding.
The judge in the case ruled that the First Amendment protects religious beliefs, but not necessarily actions based on the beliefs. In other words, his ruling tells me I am protected in believing that Saturday is the Sabbath of the Lord mentioned in the Bible. However, if I keep the Sabbath, and that is against the laws of the land, then I’m guilty.
The judge also wrote, “The Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”
Do you sense the magnitude of this ruling?
“The law is clear: if you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Washington state’s attorney general said in a prepared statement.
Attorney Kristen Waggoner called the ruling “terrifying” and said, “A government that can force you to say something and express a message that is so deeply contrary to your core beliefs is terrifying…”
During the interview, Stuzman said, “It’s me now, but tomorrow it’s going to be you.”5
- Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom [↩]
- American Civil Liberties Union [↩]
- transcribed from interview, accessed February 22, 2015 [↩]
- http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/19/why-does-government-consider-this-grandmother-public-enemy-no-1/, accessed February 22, 2015 [↩]
- transcribed from Fox News interview February 23, 2015 [↩]
- http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/19/why-does-government-consider-this-grandmother-public-enemy-no-1/ accessed February 22, 2015 [↩]
- http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/23/flower-power-christian-florist-rejects-attorney-generals-offer-wont-betray-her/ accessed February 22, 2015 [↩]