State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers | Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Description:  Barronelle Stutzman, the sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Wash., has for her entire career served and employed people who identify as homosexual. Despite this, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington attorney general allege that she is guilty of unlawful discrimination because she acted consistent with her faith and declined to use her creative skills to beautify the same-sex ceremony of a long-time customer, Robert Ingersoll, and another man, Curt Freed.

Support for floral artist at full bloom

Multiple friend-of-the-court briefs filed at Washington Supreme Court in support of Barronelle Stutzman, Arlene’s Flowers
Friday, September 30, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Numerous states and groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs this week with the Washington Supreme Court in support of a Richland floral artist and the principle that the government cannot force Americans to promote messages and participate in events with which they disagree. Among the parties filing briefs are 13 states, various constitutional scholars and legal experts, a wide range of religious organizations and denominations, and an international association of Christian photographers.

The Washington Supreme Court agreed in March to hear the case of floral artist Barronelle Stutzman, whom the state attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union sued for acting consistently with her faith. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Stutzman and her business, Arlene’s Flowers.

“Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “The briefs that have been filed in support of Barronelle encourage the court to affirm the broad protections that both the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution afford to freedom of speech and conscience. These freedoms protect Barronelle in the same way that they protect an atheist painter’s right to decline to paint a mural for a church, or a pro-same-sex-marriage print shop owner’s right to decline to print materials for a rally promoting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

A lower court ruled that Stutzman must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who were comfortable promoting and participating in their ceremony.

“This case is not about refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation or dislike for another person who is preciously created in God’s image. I sold flowers to Rob for years. I helped him find someone else to design his wedding arrangements. I count him as a friend,” Stutzman wrote in an op-ed for The Seattle Times in response to a column that Ingersoll wrote with Curt Freed. “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.”

“This country has a rich history of protecting the rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who led the 13-state coalition that filed a brief in support of Stutzman. “Unfortunately, these rights have recently come under a sustained and coordinated assault even though they are the very reason many came to this country in the first place. Along with my colleagues, I am urging the Washington Supreme Court to recognize that the actions of the defendant are not discriminatory or unlawful but rather reflect sincerely held religious beliefs that should be accommodated in our pluralistic and tolerant society.”

Washington attorneys George Ahrend and John Connelly are also counsel of record in the lawsuits, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Friend-of-the-court briefs filed with Washington Supreme Court

Additional resources: State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers | Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Previous news releases:

  • 2016-03-03: Washington Supreme Court will hear case over floral artist’s freedom
  • 2016-02-08: Washington floral artist’s freedom firmly rooted in federal, state constitutional law
  • 2015-06-01: Wash. grandmother’s home, livelihood, freedom at stake
  • 2015-04-28: ADF asks Washington Supreme Court to review floral artist’s case
  • 2015-03-27: Wash. floral artist’s home, savings still at risk after court judgment
  • 2015-02-20: Floral artist responds to Wash. attorney general's settlement offer
  • 2015-02-18: Wash. floral artist’s home, savings at risk of state seizure after court ruling
  • 2014-12-18: Wash. grandmother’s religious freedom, livelihood at stake
  • 2014-12-04: State AG targets Wash. grandmother’s religious freedom and personal assets
  • 2013-10-28: Florist to court: Dismiss Wash. AG's attack on religious freedom
  • 2013-05-21: Wash. florist answers ACLU lawsuit
  • 2013-05-16: Wash. florist will not wilt, sues AG to reclaim religious freedom

  • Barronelle Stutzman: Florist: LGBT rights law could destroy my business (Indianapolis Star, 2016-01-27)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Why a friend is suing me: the Arlene’s Flowers story (Seattle Times, 2015-11-09)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Arlene’s Flowers owner disappointed with editorial (Tri-City Herald, 2015-07-21)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding (Washington Post, 2015-05-12)

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