Barronelle Stutzman’s legal trouble started when she declined to design floral arrangements celebrating long-time customer Rob Ingersoll’s same-sex ceremony.
That one decision – a decision to peacefully live and work consistently with her faith – kicked off a legal battle that has been going on for over five years. And it’s not over. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court wiped out a Washington Supreme Court ruling against her. Now, the Washington courts must reconsider Barronelle’s case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, which rejected government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by creative professionals like Barronelle.
It’s been a long road for Barronelle, living under the threat of government punishment and receiving countless hateful messages and even death threats. But Barronelle’s faith hasn’t faltered. This is her story.
Here are four things about her story that you need to know:
#1: Barronelle Stutzman happily served Rob Ingersoll for nearly ten years.
In the news media coverage, Rob Ingersoll and Barronelle Stutzman’s nearly decade-long relationship is frequently left out. The reason why isn’t hard to understand. It’s because Rob and Barronelle’s warm, cordial friendship, based on a mutual appreciation for creativity, beauty, and flowers, debunks the myth that Barronelle refuses to serve LGBT customers.
#2: Barronelle Stutzman was targeted by the attorney general of her state.
For most Americans, their state attorney general's office doesn’t factor into their daily lives. Until the Spring of 2013, the same could be said for Barronelle. The Washington state attorney general's office heard about Barronelle in the media and filed a lawsuit against her without even receiving a complaint from Rob Ingersoll or his partner. The Washington state attorney general's office then took unprecedented steps to single out and punish Barronelle because of her religious beliefs about marriage.
#3: Barronelle Stutzman is being sued professionally and personally.
It wasn’t enough for the attorney general's office to sue Barronelle as the owner of Arlene’s Flowers. He decided to make an example out of her. So both he and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Barronelle, not just in her role as a business owner, but also personally. This means that in addition to facing legal trouble with her business, Barronelle’s house, life savings, and other personal assets are also at risk.
#4: Barronelle Stutzman heard about Alliance Defending Freedom through friends.
When Barronelle received the first letter from the attorney general's office, she knew that she would need an attorney. But she didn’t have an attorney on speed dial. So a friend told her about Alliance Defending Freedom. With one call to our organization, she went from facing legal threats completely alone to having several attorneys willing and able to defend her right to freely live out her faith free of charge.
What the courts decide to do with Barronelle’s case is critical. The religious and artistic freedom of Barronelle and many other creative professionals is still at stake. And that means your freedom is still at stake, too. Please join us in praying that Barronelle gets the justice she deserves.
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