In a unanimous decision Thursday, Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled against a Christian businesswoman, holding “that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case-refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding-constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the WLAD [Washington Law Against Discrimination].”
Case: Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, in 2013 “declined to use her creative skills to beautify the same-sex ceremony of a long-time customer, Robert Ingersoll, and another man, Curt Freed.” She believes that creating floral arrangements for a wedding is using her “imagination and artistic skill to intimately participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.” Stutzman cited her First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has doggedly pursue the case -- not just to define the law, but to egregiously fine Stutzman as well.
The justices ruled that Stutzman violated Washington Law Against Discrimination. If so, WLAD is poorly written and should be found unconstitutional by our Supreme Court of the United States. In a statement that seemed driven by illogic -- but to which they may have been driven by their own bad law -- the justices pointed out that “Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism.” Duh. Her conscientious objection is not that heterosexual Muslims and atheists cannot be married, but that homosexual marriage violated her philosophical viewpoint. The conscientious objection was not to their religion or lack thereof, but her based on her religious belief about homosexuality and marriage.
A related story demonstrates how both sides can be inconsistent in their calls for freedom. In an open letter, fashion designer Sophie Theallet refused to serve the first lady, Melania Trump.
“As an independent fashion brand, we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideas...We value our artistic freedom...I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next first lady...I encourage my fellow designers to do the same. Integrity is our only true currency.”
This news has been hailed by the inconsistent political left as “noble,” “patriotic,” “admirable integrity.” -- “taking a stand...[that] others should follow.” This is the same branch of political philosophers who are hounding Barronelle Stutzman for her stand on her own artistic freedom. Consistency thou art a jewel.
As for me, I say let both Sophie Theallet and Barronelle Stutzman not be compelled by the government to express their art in a way that violates their consciences.
- State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers, Inc. -- “We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case-refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding-constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the WLAD.”
- Open Letter, Sophie Theallet -- “As an independent fashion brand, we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideas.”
- Washington floral artist to ask US Supreme Court to protect her freedom -- “The state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ.”
- Washington Supreme Court Punishes Barronelle Stutzman. What Now? -- “After much anticipation, the Washington Supreme Court has punished Barronelle Stutzman for peacefully operating her business consistently with her faith.”
- Washington Supreme Court rules against florist in same-sex wedding case -- “Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the couple sued her, saying she broke state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws, and the lower court agreed. The state’s nine high court justices upheld that verdict.”
- Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russ Moore talks about the Washington v. Arlene's Flowers ruling