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The courts continue to wrestle with homosexual nuptials and the meaning of “participation.” The Washington state Supreme Court last week held that a florist in Richland, Wash., had no right in the law to refuse to provide flowers to two men for their same-sex wedding because to participate in such a rite would violate her deeply held religious beliefs.
The state court ruled unanimously that the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, violated Washington’s anti-discrimination law by refusing custom to the men, even though she argued that being compelled to do so would violate those religious beliefs. Mrs. Stutzman said she had sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed before, and knew they were of the homosexual persuasion, but told them that she couldn’t supply flowers for their nuptials because same-sex marriage is contrary to Christian beliefs.
Mrs. Stutzman’s floral arrangements, the court held, didn’t constitute protected free speech, but neither does providing those flowers to a same-sex wedding represent an endorsement of it. “As [Mrs.] Stutzman acknowledged at deposition,” the justices wrote, “providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism.”
Mrs. Stutzman’s lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that providing the flowers constituted participation in the wedding. “It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will,” she said. “Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority. They are constitutional guarantees.” She said Mrs. Stutzman, who was fined $1,000 and a dollar costs, will appeal the decision to a federal court.
Since the bridal couple could have bought flowers elsewhere, Mrs. Stutzman rightly thinks the homosexual lobby wants to make an example of her to send a message to other florists, bakers and photographers that they have no right to decide whether they want to participate in gay nuptials. In fact, a similar case in pending now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A baker in Lakewood, Colo., refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and a decision in that case could have implications for others. The baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom as well.
“No one should have to choose between their faith and livelihood,” says Alan Sears of the alliance. “Freedom cannot survive in an environment of coercion.”
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