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Supreme Court of the United States

Why Redefining Marriage is Already An Issue

October 17, 2017

By: Katie Heller

Opponents of traditional marriage have reassured us that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples won’t impact traditional marriage views or those who hold those beliefs. They propose that redefining marriage is simply about love, dignity, and equality.

Like many, Justice Samuel Alito had concerns with this line of thinking. During oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges  case, he asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether a college or university (and by extension any non-profit or religious group such as churches) that believes marriage is a union of a man and a woman would lose its tax-exempt status. His answer? “[I]t is going to be an issue.”

Oh, good. I feel much better. Don’t you?

In simple terms:  Yes, legalizing same-sex marriage, and changing the definition of marriage will affect those who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Barronelle Stutzman knows this all too well.

Barronelle, a loveable 70-year old grandmother who lives in Washington State, is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers. She has been using her artistic talents to create floral arrangements for her customers for more than 30 years. After declining to use her talents for the same-sex wedding of a long-time customer because of her belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, she was sued by both the Washington State attorney general and the ACLU, who represents the couple. A Washington State judge ruled that Barronelle—not just her business—could be held personally responsible for attorneys’ fees and damages.

Everything Barronelle has worked to build, including her home, her family business, and her life savings, are at risk for simply operating her business according to her faith and belief about marriage.

ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said, “When Washington decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex relationships, voters were repeatedly assured, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t affect you. Live and let live…’  But that certainly hasn’t been Barronelle’s experience.  Even the trial court recognized in its decision that Barronelle lost the freedom to run her business consistent with her beliefs the day that Washington redefined marriage.”

Barronelle is not alone. Elaine HugueninAaron and Melissa KleinJack PhillipsDon and Lynn KnappBlaine Adamson, and Kelvin Cochran, have all faced similar attacks because of their beliefs on sexuality and that marriage is between one man and one woman.

How many more people and business have to be threatened before opponents acknowledge that redefining marriage does impact more than just same-sex couples?

Redefining marriage is not going to be an issue. It is already an issue—an issue that has imposed significant costs on those who seek to live consistently with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Take Action:

  • Alliance Defending Freedom is working on behalf of people like Barronelle who are targeted for their beliefs about marriage. Your gift will help us continue to defend her and other clients free of charge. Find out how you can make a difference today.

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith


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