An entire community rallied behind the owner of a small florist company after she was fined by the government for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.
According to Fox News, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, is Christian grandmother Baronelle Stutzman. Stutzman had to make an appearance Tuesday before the state’s Supreme Court to defend her controversial actions in declining to serve a same-sex couple.
The Christian Post reported that Stutzman was fined $1,001 in 2015 for her refusal to serve the couple in 2013.
The couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, were able to find another florist, but chose to sue the grandmother because Ingersoll had used Stutzman’s company for 10 years.
By suing the Christian grandmother, they gained the power to shut down her business and take away her retirement savings.
However, when the community heard Stutzman might lose her business, they decided to take a stand. Hundreds of people from the area came out to support the florist while she argued her case to the Washington Supreme Court.
The Tri-City Herald reported that the hearing took place in an auditorium at Bellevue College, and although the venue seats up to 300 people, Stutzman’s supporters crowded the inside of the building and overflowed into the parking lot.
One supporter, Georgene Faries, said she showed up at the hearing to take a stand for religious rights.
“It’s not hate-mongering. I think that is a real confusion and that is a distortion and especially a lie because we don’t hate anybody. We don’t hate individuals,” she said. “I’m here because I believe in religious liberties, and I’m going to stand with Barronelle because I think that we have the freedom to stand for what we believe.”
Stutzman said she never expected such a massive amount of public support. And while she might be part of a legal fight that’s taking place in different courts across the country, she explained that no court case would ever change her religious convictions.
“Protecting our beliefs isn’t a negative thing like some people say it is,” she noted. “It’s good things like justice, reason, fairness and respect. However this court rules, it will not effect my faith and my love for all.”
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