OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court agreed March 2 to hear the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland florist sued by the state attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union for her faith-based decision not to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Stutzman filed a brief with the high court in February to challenge the state’s and the ACLU’s arguments against her.
A lower court ruled that Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to design custom floral arrangements for a longtime customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to other local florists who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support.
“Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “We hope the Washington Supreme Court will affirm the broad protections both the U.S. Constitution and Washington Constitution afford to freedom of speech and conscience.”
“No one should face personal and professional ruin simply for exercising these foundational freedoms,” added ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Americans clearly oppose un-just government actions that force people to create expression against their will.”
“This case is not about refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation or dislike for another person who is preciously created in God’s image,” Stutzman wrote in a recent Seattle Times op-ed in response to an op-ed Ingersoll wrote with Curt Freed. “I sold flowers to Rob for years. I helped him find someone else to design his wedding arrangements. I count him as a friend … I want to believe that a state as diverse as Washington, with our long commitment to personal and religious freedoms, would be as willing to honor my right to make those kinds of choices as it is to honor Rob’s right to make his.”
Washington attorneys George Ahrend, John Connelly, and Alicia Berry are also counsel of record in the lawsuits, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers.