The Washington State Attorney General has weighed in on Barronelle Stutzman's case, and supports the court's decision finding her guilty.
For the past few years there have been several cases of anti-gay discrimination that have captivated the nation and mobilized the religious right against the right of same-sex couples to marry. These simple cases involving clear-cut discrimination, animus and anti-gay beliefs of florists, photographers, and bakers refusing to provide their goods and services to gay people getting married have all been decided in favor of the same-sex couples, as was the case against Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman.
As the owner of arlene's flowers, Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the wedding of a long time customer, citing her deeply held religious beliefs.
The State tried to settle with Stutzman for $2000 but she refused, and with her activist Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, went to trial. A Washington judge found Stutzman violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination, and fined her $1000, $1 in legal costs, and enjoined her from further acts of discrimination.
Stutzman and her Alliance Defending Freedom attorney since the case began in 2013 have egregiously been putting on a show, traveling the country, and claiming the state is trying to bankrupt her.
And she's gotten an all-too-happy-to-comply media to go along with her pity party.
"Barronelle Stutzman is now going to lose her business, her life savings, and possibly her own home for putting her faith into practice," Fox News' Erick Erickson claimed, incorrectly.
Stutzman "stands to lose her business, her home, and her personal savings," a CNN op-ed wrongly claimed.
And The Heritage Foundation ran this apparently fictive piece:
In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decisionâ€”and its accompanying finesâ€”will put her flower shop out of business, or worse.
After the fines and legal fees, "There won't be anything left," Stutzman said.
"They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet."
No, the State of Washington and the couple she discriminated against just want her to stop discriminating, as the decision against her read.
Of course, the falsehoods Stutzman, her attorney, and a complicit media have claimed managed to get her $92,000 in donations via a GoFundMe page.
And now, thanks to her anti-gay attorney using Stutzman to further her own cause, the Arlene's Flowers owner is appealing the decision to the Washington Supreme Court.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson late Wednesday filed a 64-page brief that "outlines in exhaustive legal detail why the state's top justices should uphold a Benton County Superior Court decision related to Arlene's Flowers," the Tri-City Herald reports.
Ferguson, in his brief, calls the case "discrimination based on sexual orientation, pure and simple."
"Free speech and free exercise rights do not prohibit states from outlawing discriminatory conduct in business. If they did, discrimination of all kinds would flourish, and our country never would have made the enormous progress that we have," Ferguson writes.
"Just as it would be race discrimination for a florist to refuse to serve an interracial couple for their wedding, even if she would serve them at other times, it is sexual orientation discrimination for her to refuse to serve a same-sex couple for their wedding, even if she served them at other times."
Ferguson also offers these salient points in his brief:
Defendants ... argue that arranging flowers involves expression and that they therefore have a free speech right to refuse to provide wedding flowers to same-sex couples. But many types of conduct involve expression, and that does not exempt them from the law. Great cooking may be an art form, but that does not mean that a chef can evade health inspections or refuse to serve an interracial couple. Accepting Defendants' argument would mean exempting from government regulation any conduct that involves expression. That is not and cannot be the law.
Defendants also wrongly contend that their illegal discrimination must be excused because it is motivated by religion. That is incorrect. "When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity." United States v. Lee
The state Supreme Court will decide early next year if it will hear the case or send it to a lower court.
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