The Washington state Supreme Court last week issued a ruling against Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman, pronouncing that her refusal four years ago to provide floral arrangements for a gay couple’s same-sex wedding had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Stutzman’s attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom have since vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that the ruling amounts to a clear violation of Stutzman’s right to religious liberty.
“Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns,” senior counsel Kristen Waggoner said in a statement.
“It’s no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom — because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice,” she added.
As noted by Fortune magazine, the case’s origins go back to 2013, when Robert Ingersoll — a longtime customer of Stutzman’s — and his partner, Curt Freed, attempted to purchase wedding flowers from the florist’s shop, Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts.
Her polite but stern refusal allegedly took an “emotional toll” on the couple, according to Forbes, leading eventually to the state’s attorney general demanding that Stutzman “stop discriminating” and just provide the gay couple some flowers.
When the Christian florist continued to refuse, Ingersoll and Freed took matters into their own hands — but not by merely seeking out another florist. Instead, the aggrieved couple filed a formal complaint against Stutzman.
A local court initially ruled in favor of the couple, after which the florist tried appealing to the state supreme court. On Thursday, however, Stutzman was again on the losing end, which was why her attorneys maintain that taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court is their only remaining option.
Whether Stutzman could actually win the case remains to be seen, though one thing is for certain: Her chances of victory would be much higher were Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a staunch proponent of religious liberty, to first be confirmed in office.
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