ADF on florist's case: State forcing conformance via coercion

Thursday, February 19, 2015
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

A court in Washington is telling a florist it's okay to believe in what she wants to believe, but not to practice her religion in her business.

Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, owned by Barronelle Stutzman, declined to do floral arrangements for a same-sex "marriage" because it would violate her Christian beliefs. "Marriage is a sacred, very sacred thing," she says. "You want flowers for your anniversary or your birthday or whatever, that's fine – but I just cannot do a same-sex marriage."

When she refused, two homosexuals filed a complaint with the state and a state judge now has found Stutzman guilty of violating the state's anti-discrimination law. The consequences could include loss of her business, income, and personal possessions such as her home and life savings.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristen Waggoner, who is representing the Christian florist, says the ruling violates the Constitution.

"It's also unnecessary. There are lots of florists [available]," she explains. "If you look in the [Yellow Pages for the] Tri-Cities area, there's like three pages ... of florists that could have served this couple. Yet what's being set up here is that's not good enough; it's not good enough that there are other florists. [They're essentially saying] we have to coerce everyone to do what we want them to do – even if it violates religious convictions."

ADF attorney Jonathan Scruggs tells OneNewsNow the court somehow concluded that forcing Stutzman to create expression against her will doesn't violate her free-speech and religion rights.

"To the contrary: this ruling ignores the preeminent civil rights law of our country, that being the First Amendment," states Scruggs. "And it would also allow the state to force citizens to choose between conforming their beliefs to the state's ideology or suffering extremely severe consequences."

Wednesday's court decision isn't the last word. ADF is considering further legal options to protect Stutzman's constitutional rights.

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