The Supreme Court of the United States has requested that the Washington Supreme Court reconsider the case of a florist who declined to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding, citing her faith as the main reason. In light of its June 4 ruling in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips, who declined to create a custom cake to celebrate a gay marriage, the highest court in the land urged the Washington Supreme Court to take another look.
“Today’s decision suggests that [the Phillips case] may provide more robust protections than many commentators initially thought,” Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Signal.
The florist in this case, Barronelle Stutzman, is being represented by the conservative Christian legal group who represented Jack Phillips — the Alliance Defending Freedom. Stutzman faces fines for allegedly violating Washington’s anti-discrimination law by refusing service to a longtime gay customer.
“The [state] attorney general and the ACLU sued me because I would not do a same-sex wedding,” the florist told the Daily Signal, adding that her reason for refusing service was simply: “because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
She also said that she and the man who is suing her have been friends for 10 years.
“I miss him,” she said, noting that she has nothing personal against gay people.
“I truly want the best for my friend,” Stutzman wrote in a letter to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in 2015, according to the Guardian. “I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case.”
Though the case being referred back to Washington state may appear to be something of a win for Stutzman, it is important to note that the Supreme Court made no ruling or comment on the issues at stake, nor did it offer a legal opinion on its merit.
“The Supreme Court sent the case back for further consideration by the Washington courts; they didn’t say the Washington courts did anything wrong, and just asked the court to take another look in light of this month’s decision in Masterpiece,” Charlie Craig, one of the gay plaintiffs in the Colorado bakery case, told the Independent. “There is no evidence of hostility towards religious beliefs in this case. In fact, Washington courts repeatedly recognized that religious views are protected.”
“We are confident that the Washington courts will again rule that no business has the right to discriminate,” he added.
The Supreme Court “reversed Colorado’s decision to punish cake artist Jack Phillips for living and working consistently with his religious beliefs about marriage, just as Stutzman has also been trying to do while under legal attack by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union,” Alliance Defending Freedom said in a statement.
“Barronelle, like Jack, serves all customers but declines to create custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs. The Washington attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack,” said ADF’s Kristen Waggoner.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has rightfully asked the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle’s case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision,” Waggoner continued. “In that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by creative professionals like Jack and Barronelle. The state of Washington, acting through its attorney general, has shown similar hostility here.”
(H/T: The Daily Signal)