Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Christian Florist Who Was Punished for Refusing Service to a Gay Wedding
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Friday from a florist who refused to service a gay wedding ceremony because of her Christian beliefs.
The appeal was brought by Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, according to NBC News.
The florist had refused to provide flowers for the wedding of two male customers in 2013, citing her Southern Baptist beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ” as reasons to refuse service.
Stutzman said her floral arrangements were a work of art and creating one for a same-sex wedding would violate her freedom of expression.
She had reportedly been a friend to the couple and had provided one of the men with floral arrangements in the past, but refused to do so for the couple’s wedding, Reuters reported.
Washington state courts ruled that the florist had broken a Washington law that said businesses could not discriminate against customers based on a variety of factors, including sexual orientation.
She was fined $1,000 for violating the anti-discrimination law and was told to provide the same services for gay couples as straight couples, according to Reuters.
NBC reported that when the case went to the Washington Supreme Court, it ruled that providing flowers for a wedding, or refusing to do so, “does not inherently express a message about that wedding.”
The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018, but the court passed it back to the Washington Supreme Court in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding, according to Reuters.
The Washington court stood by its original ruling in 2019 in favor of the state.
“Religious people should be free to live out their beliefs about marriage,” Stutzman’s lawyers said when asking the Supreme Court to hear the case again, according to NBC.
“These First Amendment violations must stop.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have heard the case, but it requires four justices for a grant, The Washington Post reported.
Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said it was “tragic” that the Supreme Court had declined to hear Stutzman’s case.
“No one should be forced to express a message or celebrate an event they disagree with,” Waggoner said in a statement.
“A government that can crush someone like Barronelle, who kindly served her gay customer for nearly a decade but simply declined to create art celebrating one sacred ceremony, can use its power to crush any of us regardless of our political ideology or views on important issues like marriage.”
She added that she was “confident” the court will eventually uphold “the constitutionally protected freedom of creative professionals to live and work consistently with their most deeply held beliefs.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.