After SCOTUS denies protection, WA florist settles in with gay activists
Barronelle Stutzman, a southeast Washington florist, concluded a nearly decade-long legal saga in November by settling with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over its refusal to organize a same-sex marriage.
As part of the deal, Stutzman, who in 2013 turned down flower arrangements for Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who were later represented by the left-wing nonprofit, paid the couple $ 5,000 and a sold his business to staff.
“I just think it’s amazing how it turned out,” Stutzman told The Federalist. After almost nine years of litigation, she said, “I didn’t have to violate my conscience.
Stutzman, 76, said she hopes to retire by mid-January after 15 years at the helm of her company.
When she decided to refuse service on the basis of her religious beliefs, the ACLU and the Washington State Attorney General, she said, “tried to intimidate me into doing something wrong. same-sex marriages or they’ll destroy me “.
As to whether she felt destroyed after the settlement, however, Stutzman said “not at all.”
“I feel like I didn’t have to compromise my principles, my ultimate faith,” she said. “Rob and Curt have every right to believe what they do and live the way they do, and I am asking the same.”
Kristen Wagoner, general counsel for the First Amendment nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Stutzman, noted in an interview with The Federalist that a settlement with the ACLU was exceptionally “rare.” In July, the Supreme Court denied hearing the Stutzman case, a ruling that left in place a lower court ruling that Stutzman violated a state civil rights law.
“This is the end of Barronelle’s legal journey, but it has inspired others,” Wagoner said, pointing to another Colorado case that was filed with the Supreme Court in September.
Lorie Smith, founder of Denver-area web design company 303 Creative, lost a 2-1 U.S. Court of Appeals decision for the 10th Circuit that required her to create graphics and personalized websites for LGBT customers despite posts that contradict her religious beliefs. .
According to a press release from the Defending Freedom Alliance, 16 states and 45 members of Congress have joined the nonprofit, with a group of lawyers, economists, publishers and media groups filing briefs friend of the court asking the High Court to take up Smith’s appeal.
“We hope the Supreme Court hears this case,” Wagoner said, citing her as “critical.”
As retirement nears, Stutzman issued a warning.
“Our freedoms are being taken away one by one, and if we don’t stand up and speak out, we’re going to be buried,” Stutzman told the Federalist.