Hundreds of Barronelle Stutzman supporters showed up in force on Tuesday when the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in her case.
Barronelle is a florist in Washington who declined to provide custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding because the biblical definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman prevents her from using her artistic talents to promote contrary ideas about marriage. She did, however, refer him to three other floral design artists who she knew would do a good job.
Because of this she was sued by both the Washington State Attorney General and the same-sex couple, represented by the ACLU and stands to lose not just her business, but everything she owns.
The large, diverse crowd that was there to support Barronelle understands the implications of this case:
If the government is allowed to force Barronelle to express a message against her faith, then what would keep the government from doing the same to others?
Here’s how the day’s events played out.
7:30 AM PT – A line of people wrapped around the building stood outside the auditorium at Bellevue College, where the arguments were being heard. In line many people were holding signs that said “I Stand with Barronelle,” “Justice for Barronelle,” and “Let Freedom Bloom” as well as white roses to show their support.
The auditorium can fit approximately 300 people, and a majority of those seats were taken by those supporting Barronelle and her right to freely live out her faith.
9:00 AM PT – Oral arguments began. ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner addressed the court first. She explained that Barronelle served Rob for nearly 10 years prior, and he was one of her favorite customers. It was the event itself that she did not feel she could participate in and use her artistic talents to celebrate.
The Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney representing the same-sex couple made it very clear that creative professionals should be forced to use their artistic abilities to promote events or speak messages that violate their faith.
In fact, at one point Ferguson compared custom floral art to speech such as a poem, but concluded that artists who work on a commissioned basis have no free speech rights that may override public accommodation laws.
10:00 AM PT – The oral arguments wrapped up and Barronelle and Kristen addressed the press outside surrounded by supporters chanting Barronelle’s name.
12:00 PM PT – Kristen and Barronelle spoke with Communications Director Kerri Kupec about the oral arguments and the overwhelming support they saw from the crowd.
No American Should Be Forced to Choose Between Living Consistently with Their Faith or Losing Everything
Yet, that is just what Barronelle is being asked to do. And she is not the only one.
We are defending several creative professionals who have said they cannot use their artistic talents to promote an event or speak a message that is contrary to their faith. To see their stories visit CreateFreely.org.