A 70 year-old Christian grandmother and florist from Washington state is fast becoming the latest hero of the faith for refusing to cave to gay bullies who are using the state to destroy both her business and even her personal assets simply because she refused to serve their same-sex wedding.
Todd Starnes of FoxNews.com says Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, has just rejected an offer from the attorney general to settle a case against her by two gay men who claim she discriminated against them by refusing to provide flowers for their wedding. The state’s deal would require her to pay a $2,000 penalty for violating the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, and an agreement that she will not discriminate in the future.
It’s the last provision that her faith will not allow her to tolerate.
“You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver,” Stutzman wrote in a letter to state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “That is something I will not do.”
As a result, the attorney general is now going after Stutzman’s personal assets, such as her very home, as well as her business.
“My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the defendant’s unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a prepared statement.
Stutzman’s lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty law, said Stutzman’s legal bills could be as high as seven figures.
“He’s using the full power of his office to personally and professionally destroy her,” ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner told Starnes.
In the meantime, the soft-spoken Stutzman is standing firm – even if that means losing her home.
“I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my homes and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important,” Stutzman wrote in a letter to the attorney general.
“It’s about freedom, not money,” she said. “You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating and having a home.”
The state believes itself to be on the right side of the law after a judge decided that even though religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected.
In other words, in Washington state, you can believe in God, but you can’t act upon those beliefs.
Waggoner called the ruling “terrifying.”
“A government that can force you to say something and express a message that is so deeply contrary to your core beliefs is terrifying,” Waggoner told Starnes. “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.”
Waggoner plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
In the meantime, Stutzman bears no ill-will against the homosexual man who is behind the suit.
“I truly want the best for my friend,” she wrote about the man who she knew very well before the conflict arose.
The suit looks even more cold-hearted when it is revealed that Stutzman has employed and served members of the LGBT community in the past and plans to do so in the future. She just won’t do weddings.
If Stutzman can make those kinds of compromises to the gay community, why can’t they return the favor? Isn’t compromise the only intelligent way to live in a pluralistic society? Besides, polls have consistently shown that a largemajority of Americans believe business owners should be allowed to refuse services based on their religious beliefs. This means that the prevailing “bull in a china shop” tactic used by gay couples to financially ruin businesses that refuse to serve them even when there are dozens of alternative businesses willing to do so is not gaining them any favor from a population that is still very uneasy about same-sex relations.
Cases such as this one are bound to make Stutzman look like a hero and the gay community look like a pack of heartless bullies.
“Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences,” Stutzman wrote to the attorney general. “Because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.”
The attorney general ought to take her advice and stop trying to make an example out of someone like Stutzman. Every time she speaks, with her quiet and unassuming manner, his case against her backfires all the more.
In the end, the only example he’s going to give is how the state can sometimes be as big a bully as the gay community.
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