Christian Florist Countersues Over Violation of Religous Right to Decline Homosexual ‘Wedding’ Order

Florist pdRichland, Washington – A Christian florist in Washington has countersued the state attorney general for violating her rights of conscience and religion in declining to decorate the homosexual wedding of a longtime client.

As previously reported, Baronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland was leveled with a lawsuit in March by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who claims that she violated the law by not fulfilling the order. Stutzman had been approached by one of her faithful customers, Robert Ingersoll, a homosexual, as he wanted her to supply the flowers for his upcoming ceremony with his partner, Curt. She states that she politely explained that she would not be able to help in regard to the event.

“I just took his hands and said, ‘I’m sorry. I cannot do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman told reporters.

Ingersoll said that he was surprised by her words.

“I would send bouquets [to my partner] saying, ‘love Rob, to Kurt,’ so it came as a shock to me because I’ve had a 9-year relationship with Barronelle, and have never thought there was a reason that she wouldn’t,” he stated. “I makes me want to cry thinking about it. I respect her.”

After Ingersoll decided to post on Facebook about the matter, controversy arose on both sides of the issue — both for and against Stutzman. The florist said that she received a number of threatening and angry comments.

“It blew way out of proportion,” Stutzman explained. “I’ve had hate mail. I’ve had people that want to burn my building. I’ve had people that will never shop here again and [vow to] tell all their friends.”

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Weeks later, Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued Stutzman a letter advising that she must accommodate homosexual ceremonies or be subject to a lawsuit and heavy fines.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” he wrote. “This means that as a seller of goods or services, you will not refuse to sell floral arrangements for same-sex weddings if you sell floral arrangements for opposite-sex weddings.”

He included with his letter a form that offered Stutzman the opportunity to recant and agree to comply with the law. She refused, and was subsequently met with a lawsuit. A month later, the ACLU of Washington also filed suit against the florist on behalf of Robert Ingersoll and his partner Curt Freed.

Now, with the assistance of the national Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Stutzman has filed a countersuit against Ferguson, noting that the Washington State Constitution protects “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship” and guarantees that “no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion.”

The lawsuit notes that Stutzman has hired homosexuals at her business, and will service them, but cannot in good conscience assist with same-sex ceremonies.

“Barronelle has been creating floral arrangements for Robert Ingersoll for nearly nine years,” the countersuit states. “Barronelle has known that Robert Ingersoll identifies himself as gay throughout most of their nine-year relationship. That fact never made any difference in the way Mr. Ingersoll was treated as a customer. Arlene’s Flowers routinely designs floral arrangements for other gay and lesbian clientele. Arlene’s Flowers has also had openly gay employees.”

“Everyone knows that plenty of florists are willing to assist in same-sex ceremonies, so the state has no reason to force Barronelle to violate her deeply held beliefs,” commented ADF  legal counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions. Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs. It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”

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  • Suzanne

    According to the state of Washington, a business owner may not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. By refusing to provide flowers for a wedding she disapproved of, she was breaking the law.

    I would also like to know if she provides flowers for the weddings of people who have been divorced. Jesus says, more than once, that divorce for any reason but “fornication,” is not allowed; the remarriage of a divorced person is adultery. I would hope that this woman bothers to find out if her clients have been divorced, and WHY they were divorced. If she does not, she’s aiding and abetting adultery.

    Jesus didn’t like hypocrites.

    • If she does, then perhaps it does not violate her conscience to provide flowers for those weddings.

      It is not up to you or the government or anyone else to tell this florist what her faith beliefs are or what would violate her conscience.

      You see, YOU don’t get to dictate what others think, believe and feel in their hearts. And this is no matter what you believe about Jesus.


  • Ross Yerkes

    Dear Debra, God bless you. We are living in the time of the End Times Anti-Christ and it is only going to continue to get worst for Christians. For people my age, 73, the changes in the world and this country are amazing and exciting. Reminds us Christians of Gods denunciation of Israel in Isaiah 5:20, when the Jews of that day had turned everything upside down. Interestingly, the lead players in this End Times rebellion against God are the same as in Isaiah’s day, and Jesus day, so appropriately, history has come full circle from Bible times to our day. What we see happening in the U.S. and the Western world as a whole, has been described as a “Culture war”, but it is really a religious war between the two most influential Jews in history over who will rule the hearts and minds of mankind; Jesus Christ or Karl Marx, THE JEWISH CHRIST, – or THE JEWISH ANTI-CHRIST !