Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has offered florist Barronelle Stutzman a deal: She can cater to same-sex weddings or she can stop doing weddings altogether.
Of course, there’s always a third option: She can go out of business.
Ms. Stutzman, the 70-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, is opting for none of the above.
“Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about,” Ms. Stutzman said in a letter to Mr. Ferguson. “It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.”
Ms. Stutzman rejected Friday a settlement agreement offered by Mr. Ferguson that would have required her to pay $2,001 in damages and legal fees after a judge ruled last week that she violated state law by declining to provide services for a same-sex wedding.
“My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the Defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Mr. Ferguson said in a statement….
Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer representing Ms. Stutzman, said the settlement offer was unacceptable because it would require the florist either to “surrender her freedoms or violate her conscience.”
“Barronelle has always had the option to just stop doing weddings,” Ms. Waggoner said in an email. “The settlement offer offers nothing she hasn’t had the right to do from the beginning. The point is that she must forgo all weddings, the part of her craft that she loves, or violate her conscience.”
Ms. Stutzman has said she has hired gay employees and served any number of gay customers over the years, but her Christian beliefs prevent her from participating in a same-sex wedding. Such services would include “custom design work to decorate the ceremony, delivery to the forum, staying at the ceremony to touch up arrangements, and assisting the wedding party,” the Alliance Defending Freedom said in a statement.
One of the men who sued her, Robert Ingersoll, had been a client for nearly a decade, she said….
By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times –