Richland, Washington — A florist in Washington state says that she has been receiving threats from across the nation from those who are angry that she refused to fulfill an order for a homosexual “wedding.”
Barronelle Stutzman is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and is a born-again Christian. Last week, one of her longtime customers, Robert Ingersoll, a homosexual, approached Stutzman with a proposition: he wanted her to supply the flowers for his upcoming ceremony with his partner, Curt.
“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 Barronnelle, and have never thought there was a reason that she wouldn’t,” he said. “I makes me want to cry thinking about it. I respect her.”
However, 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.”
But, she noted that she has also received words of support.
“I’ve had other people that have said, ‘Thanks for standing up for your convictions, and we’ll shop here, and we’ll back you in any way we can,'” Stutzman said.
Some are now asserting that the florist has violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, which provides the “right to engage in credit transactions without discrimination.”
“Washington’s anti-discrimination law would not allow the florist to discriminate against the same-sex couple,” explained the office of the state attorney general. “If they sell wedding flowers to any other opposite sex couple, they must sell flowers to a same-sex couple.”
But Stutzman said that she doesn’t discriminate against homosexuals.
“We hire gay people. I have people that are friends that are gay,” she said. “That wasn’t the issue. I just didn’t want to participate in the marriage.”
However, now one of her employees has quit over the matter, citing a “moral and ethical obligation” to quit.
“Some things are more important than money, and I felt making a stand by quitting — just not doing something completely against my beliefs — was very important to me,” the employee stated.
Stutzman said that she feels that she is the one being judged by the public for her beliefs.
“I’m not against gays. If they want to believe they should be married, that’s certainly their conviction and belief,” she told the Tri-County Herald. “I’m not to judge them on that, and they shouldn’t judge me.”
“I feel really bad that people are so hateful about it,” Stutzman said. “It’s really sad to see the anger in the comments come out. That’s too bad that if you have an opinion, that’s what happens.”