Florist asks high court to again hear case

    September 12, 2019

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    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Florist Barronelle Stutzman is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to again hear her case for liberty to refuse floral requests that violate her Christian convictions.

    Barronelle Stutzman. Screen capture from YouTubeWhen the high court first heard Stutzman's case in 2018, it threw out a state court ruling against her. U.S. justices ordered the lower court to reconsider Stutzman's case in light of new legal precedent from the Supreme Court itself. Complying with the order, the state in June upheld its ruling against Stutzman, maintaining she discriminated against a homosexual couple by refusing to design floral arrangements for their wedding.

    The 74-year-old grandmother could lose her business and life savings in the suit brought by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Stutzman is not giving up, her attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have announced.

    "It's hard to deny the government hostility at play here," ADF's Sarah Kramer wrote Wednesday, Sept. 11, at adflegal.org. "The bottom line is that Americans should not have to live in fear of government punishment simply for living consistently with their beliefs....Please join us in praying that the Supreme Court takes up her case."

    To date, the high court has not listed the case among those to be considered when it convenes Oct. 7, according to supremecourt.gov.

    Stutzman's saga began when she refused to serve as florist for the gay wedding of longtime customer Robert Ingersoll, whom she also considered a friend. She instead referred him to other florists who would accept the job.

    When the couple complained to the state, Ferguson initiated the suit against Stutzman, saying she violated the state's antidiscrimination law both personally and professionally.

    "I loved and served Rob for nearly 10 years, and I would serve him for another 10 years," Stutzman has said. "It never mattered to me that he was gay. He enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. The attorney general has always ignored that part of my case, choosing to vilify me and my faith instead of respecting my religious beliefs about marriage."

    The state's high court first ruled against Stutzman in 2017. When the U.S. Supreme Court heard her appeal in 2018, the federal court asked the state to reconsider in light of a recent ruling in the case of Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips. In the Phillips case, the U.S. court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown hostility in accusing Phillips of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

    "Barronelle Stutzman's continuing struggle for religious freedom should be alarming not only to Christians, but to every American who cherishes freedom," ADF has said. "You'd never expect to see someone like her at the center of a firestorm."

    Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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