This week marks the latest development in floral artist Barronelle Stutzman’s pursuit of justice.
ADF attorneys representing Barronelle filed a reply brief on her behalf with the U.S. Supreme Court, responding to arguments made by the state of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The state and the ACLU argue that the court should not take up her case, leaving the Washington Supreme Court ruling against Barronelle in place.
In the months to come, Barronelle’s plea will be considered by the Court for a second time.
But how did her case begin?
Washington Attorney General Sued Barronelle After News of a Facebook post
When Barronelle’s longtime customer and friend Rob Ingersoll asked her to design the floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding, she was torn. She loves Rob. But her Christian faith teaches her that marriage is the union of one man and one woman—a sacred relationship that represents the union of Christ and the Church. She could not in good conscience participate in or design flowers celebrating Rob’s same-sex wedding, and she gently explained this to him.
“When I talked to Rob, I did not think this would be a major issue,” Barronelle said.
It became an issue.
Washington’s attorney general learned of Barronelle’s decision through a social media post. Then, he singled out Barronelle for punishment with a lawsuit charging her with discrimination. The attorney general had not even received a complaint from Rob or his partner.
The attorney general wanted to make an example out of Barronelle. So he sued Barronelle in her professional and personal capacity. Then the ACLU sued her too. Now if the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear her case, she faces financial ruin.
Barronelle has Lived with Death Threats, Harassment, and More
Can you imagine having to endure death threats and hate mail? Since 2013, this has been Barronelle’s reality.
Barronelle has endured the worst of our polarized culture as her inbox has filled with hateful and threatening messages. Those who offer up the vitriol mock her appeal to religious faith and conscience.
In 2015, Barronelle wrote:
I want to believe that a state as diverse as Washington, with our long commitment to personal and religious freedoms, would be as willing to honor my right to make those kinds of choices as it is to honor Rob’s right to make his. That’s not endorsing a negative thing, as I’ve been accused of doing. It’s promoting good things: reason, fairness and mutual tolerance.
The state and the ACLU, along with those who send her offensive messages, have not accepted her call to reason, fairness, and mutual tolerance.
Now it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide whether Barronelle will get her day before our nation’s highest court. Please pray for Barronelle and her case as we wait to see what happens.