Over a year and a half ago, Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case. Again. Since then, she’s been waiting.
Now, a recent decision from the high court in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia means that Barronelle may soon get an answer.
But before that day comes, Barronelle made one more bold move.
Today, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, she filed a supplemental brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to decide her case directly in the wake of the Fulton decision. She asked the high court to make clear that she shouldn’t be forced to express messages or celebrate events that violate her faith.
Defending Barronelle’s Freedom Since 2013
Barronelle is a 76-year-old grandmother and owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington. She loves designing custom floral arrangements that speak profound messages ranging from celebration to grief. And she welcomes and serves everyone who sets foot in her shop, including Rob Ingersoll, whom she happily served for nearly a decade and considered a friend.
But in 2013, when Rob asked Barronelle to create custom floral arrangements celebrating his same-sex wedding, Barronelle knew that this was a request she could not fulfill. As a devout Christian, Barronelle believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. She can’t use her talents to create floral art that celebrates a view of marriage contrary to this belief.
Barronelle cares deeply for Rob. And while she serves all customers—and would happily serve Rob for another ten years—she can’t create art celebrating and participate personally in all events. So, after much thought and prayer, Barronelle politely declined Rob’s request and referred him to some nearby floral artists that she knew would do a good job.
After Barronelle explained her decision to Rob, the two hugged, and he left her shop. It should have been over, but then the Attorney General of the State of Washington encountered a news report about an angry social media post from Rob’s partner. He set out to make an example of Barronelle and filed a lawsuit against her. Later, the ACLU did the same, filing a separate lawsuit on behalf of Rob and his partner.
Barronelle’s Second Trip to the U.S. Supreme Court
This isn’t Barronelle’s first time asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case. She first petitioned the high court in 2017. But after Jack Phillips’ 2018 victory in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the Justices sent Barronelle’s case back to the Washington Supreme Court for another look. In Masterpiece, the Court ruled that the government cannot act with hostility toward people’s religious beliefs about marriage.
And there are plenty of ways in which the Washington state government has shown clear hostility toward Barronelle:
- The attorney general went after Barronelle even though Rob never filed a complaint against her.
- The attorney general sued Barronelle not only in her professional capacity, but also in her personal capacity—which puts her personal assets at risk.
- While the state has pursued unprecedented measures to punish Barronelle, it did not file a lawsuit when the owner of a Seattle coffee shop obscenely berated and ejected a group of Christian customers.
Despite all this, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle for a second time. The U.S. Supreme Court can make things right by hearing Barronelle’s case. And that’s why ADF attorneys filed the supplemental brief today.
While we don’t know exactly when the U.S. Supreme Court will act in Barronelle’s case, it should happen before the term concludes at the end of June. Please pray that the Court would agree to hear Barronelle’s case. After all, it’s not just her freedom on the line—it’s yours too. No one should be forced to participate in or custom-design art celebrating an event that conflicts with their beliefs.
A win for Barronelle would be a win for us all.
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