- The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Christian florist who refused to participate in a same-sex wedding has again requested that the Supreme Court take her case, filing a new petition Wednesday.

Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle Stutzman in June after the high court previously remanded her case for further review following its decision in a 2018 case, ruling for a Christian baker that had also refused to create a cake for a same-sex wedding.

In the baker’s case, the justices said the state’s civil rights commission showed religious hostility towards the cake maker, but the high court punted on squarely settling the First Amendment conflict.

The narrow ruling has left a series of cases in the lower courts unresolved, pitting LGBT rights against Christian-owned businesses.

Washington’s highest court had ruled against Ms. Stutzman once before, and despite taking a second look at her case, again affirmed judgment against her.

The state court reasoned there was no religious animus shown toward Ms. Stutzman, unlike the conflict involving the baker, and ruled she violated Washington’s anti-discrimination laws.

Ms. Stutzman’s attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm that also represented the baker, said the state court’s ruling runs afoul of Supreme Court precedent, forcing individuals to violate their faith.

Barronelle serves and hires people from all walks of life. What she can’t do is take part in, or create custom floral arrangements celebrating sacred events that violate her religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with ADF.

The legal battle began when Ms. Stutzman refused to provide flowers for one of her longtime customers after learning it was for a same-sex wedding ceremony. The couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Ms. Stutzman as did the state of Washington.

The ACLU and a spokesperson for the state of Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.

In her petition to the Supreme Court, Ms. Stutzman argues Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been hostile towards Christians, saying he took her to court but refused to bring any action against a gay coffee-shop owner, who allegedly removed a group of Christians from his store after disagreeing with their religious views.

Ms. Stutzman’s case is not the only one pending in courts across the country that is testing the limits between LGBT rights and the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and religious liberty.

Wedding calligraphers in Phoenix had to go to court over concerns they would be forced to create signs celebrating same-sex weddings in conflict with their faith since they provide wedding signs with scripture, celebrating the union of a man and a woman.

And a film studio in Minnesota has been fighting a legal battle to enter the wedding business in a way that conforms to their Christian view of marriage.

“Religious people should be free to live out their beliefs about marriage,” Ms. Stutzman’s attorneys argue in her appeal to the high court.

“Only this court can resolve the numerous First Amendment conflicts these issues have created,” the petition reads.

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.