Richland floral artist responds to Washington AG regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling
RICHLAND, Wash. - Barronelle Stutzman, who owns a floral shop in Richland, is responding to a court ruling which sided with a baker in Colorado who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
The justices' decision Monday was based on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling against the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker, Jack Phillips.
Stutzman, Arlene's Flowers shop owner, was sued back in 2013 after she refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding ceremony. The couple and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the lawsuit saying Sutzman had violated anti-discrimination laws.
The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled against her in February of 2017.
Ferguson claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Philllips' case will have little effect on Stutzman's case.
“Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, I would not have filed a lawsuit. Even after pursuing and prevailing in a lawsuit, I asked for only $1 in costs and fees. That is what the court awarded in our case, along with a modest $1,000 penalty for violating the law. That is all Mrs. Stutzman is obligated to pay as a result of the state’s lawsuit, aside from her own legal fees."
Stutzman has responded to Ferguson in the following statement.
“I serve everyone. What I can’t do is create custom floral arrangements that celebrate events or express messages at odds with my faith. For that, the attorney general has relentlessly prosecuted me, even suing me in my personal capacity.
“The man who asked me to design the floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding—Rob Ingersoll—was my customer and friend for over nine years. I knew that he was gay, but that didn’t matter because I serve everyone. He enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. I would gladly serve Rob if he were to come back to my shop today. 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.
“When the state trial court ruled against me at the attorney general’s request, I wrote the attorney general a letter urging him ‘to drop’ the personal claims that risk stripping away ‘my home, business, and other assets.’ He didn’t do that. For him, this case has been about making an example of me—crushing me—all because he disapproves of what I believe about marriage.”
Non-profit organization Alliance Defending Freedom has voiced their support for Stutzman, saying the attorney general pursued unprecedented measures to punish her not just in her capacity as a business owner but also in her personal capacity.
Appeals in Stutzman's case, and other similar cases, are pending.