Thomas More Society Files Amicus Brief in Support of Baronnelle Stutzman

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Back in November, when Baronnelle’s case was argued before the Washington State Supreme Court, list of Barronelle’s supporters include officials from 13 different states. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, 11 state attorneys general and 2 governors – urged the Court to rule in Barronelle’s favor in an amicus brief:

“Our history encourages a public square with many voices, all trying to persuade others of their views. But Respondents want all the voices either to agree on one view or to be silent. Because that runs contrary to America’s history of free speech and religious exemptions—which are embedded in Washington’s Constitution—Amici respectfully urge this Court to rule in Appellants’ [Barronelle’s] favor.”

Now, that list of supporters has more than doubled, with 29 members of Congress and 14 states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman in amicus briefs filed with the Court on August 21, 2017. The Thomas More Society, a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty, was among those who filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in support of the request for review by Baronnelle Stutzman.

Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman was punished today by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington for operating her business peacefully and lovingly according to her firmly and sincerely held religious beliefs.

Barronelle is a 72 yea-old grandmother who operates her business, Arlene’s Flowers. She gladly serves every person in who walks in her doors irregardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or beliefs but cannot celebrate all events. According to Alliance Defending Freedom:

In particular, because of her beliefs about marriage, she cannot design custom floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding (although she would be happy to sell premade arrangements or raw flowers to couples planning such an event).

So while she has been glad to serve Rob Ingersoll, a gay man and one of her all-time favorite customers, for nearly a decade (and would be happy to continue doing so today), she could not use her artistic talents for one request—to create custom arrangements designed to celebrate his nuptials.

But the State of Washington (which first filed a lawsuit against Barronelle) and now the State’s highest court have declared illegal her practice of running her business consistently with her faith. Regardless of the fact that she has created dozens of floral arrangements for Rob, she must also produce artwork under circumstances that would violate her convictions.

If the state of Washington has their way, this 72 year-old grandmother will be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees racked up by the ACLU in prosecuting the case against her. For simply disagreeing with the state of Washington about marriage, the ACLU and the state of Washington have put at risk everything she owns. This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home.

Joan Mannix, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, stated that the United States Supreme Court and the United States Courts of Appeals have consistently recognized that the First Amendment affords expansive protection to all forms of expression, including nonverbal art forms, including painting, music and dance.

“There is extensive case law to support this and the idea that an artist’s self-expression is protected regardless of whether the resulting works clearly express a particularized message,” stated Mannix. “Baronnelle Stutzman’s custom floral arrangements are a nonverbal medium of artistic expression. Her arrangements, especially those for wedding ceremonies, are designed to deliver an expressive message, consistent with the personalities of the couple, approving of and celebrating their marriage, and are therefore entitled to First Amendment protection.”

Mannix added that one reason it is so important for the United States Supreme Court to accept the case for review is because the Washington Supreme Court adopted a narrow construction of the First Amendment that disregards numerous cases holding that nonverbal art forms constitute pure “speech” within the meaning of the First Amendment, despite the fact that those art forms do not employ actual words.

Stutzman, explained why she gave her longstanding client referrals to three other florists when asked to create custom floral arrangements for his wedding to another man: “If all he’d asked for were prearranged flowers, I’d gladly have provided them.” “If the celebration were for his partner’s birthday, I’d have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance…(he) was asking me to choose between my affection for him and my commitment to Christ…my relationship with Jesus is everything to me.”

[Editor’s Note]: Read the amicus brief filed August 21, 2017, with the United States Supreme Court in Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. State of Washington, U. S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 17-108, here: [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/arlenes-flowers-amicus/].

(2) Comments

  1. The best way to deal with these kinds of situations is not to buy into the “we are friends” mindset because the truth is your “friends” are often your enemies. Therefore it is prudent to avoid discussing anything that could allow them to sue you. In other words, you do not owe them any explanation whatsoever as to why you refuse to accept the job from them and it is best to be vague. The answer should be something like “I’m not available and can’t re-arrange my schedule.” or “I have other plans and am not available.” or just simply “I’m not available.” and repeat that even if they change the date or ask for an explanation. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. As long as you don’t provide an explanation that can be construed as discriminating against them because of their immoral behavior that they want you to condone, they cannot sue you. You could simply say that “I’m not feeling well enough, I’m not up to doing it.” or “I’m booked already.” Christians have to learn that their “showing love” to people by giving them explanations that make it easy for people to sue you doesn’t win their heart and all they care about is punishing you for not approving of their sin and punishing you for disagreeing with their lifetstyle and lining their pockets with money. These people never were your friends, never will be your friends, and your attempt to make them your friends or your assumption that because they act friendly that they are your friends is ignorant and harmful to yourself. Even if you feel affection for them it is not returned because they choose Satan while you choose God. Don’t put yourself in harms way…and don’t assume that because they act friendly that they are your friends. They are customers. They most likely could have found a dozen other businesses more than willing to supply their needs but that isn’t good enough for them. They insist that you believe what they believe or be forced to act against your beliefs because they don’t like with or agree with your beliefs. They have no respect of consideration for you at all. They hate God and those that follow God because God condems their behavior and they don’t like having their sins pointed out or your disapproving opinion of their sinful conduct. They insiste that you must embrace sin. If they truly were your friends they would have respected your right to not do something that you don’t believe in but instead they insist that you have no right to your belief and insist that you be punished for acting in accordance with your conscience. There have been so many of these kinds of incidents that I am absolutely sure that a GLBTQ organization is promoting GLBTQ people to do this to as many people as possible in an attempt to shut up the disapproval of their behavior and try to scare people into silence. They aren’t your friends, they don’t care about you, and they are following the devil. It was inevidable that if you made yourself an easy target that they would gladly destroy you. They are wolves in sheeps clothing seeking to destroy and devour….because they hate God and those who follow God’s will. You say you love them? They don’t care. They don’t love you. Stop being so easily duped into believing that you have a relationship with them. Their only interest is in destroying all opposition to their sin. Anyone who doesn’t celebrate their sin is someone that they consider to be their enemy and they will target you for destruction. They follow the devil, not God. They have no conscience and if you don’t embrace their sin they want to destroy you. Have you not read Romans 1 verses 16-32. They Bible describes people who engage in such behavior as being “Reprobate” which means “One abandoned to depravity and sin, someone immoral and disreputable, someone whose soul is damned and rejected by God, morally unprincipled.” The Bible says (verse 28) “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not right (convenient). They are filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, HATERS OF GOD, despiteful, proud (the pride parade…proud of sin and haters of God), boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, WITHOUT NATURAL AFFECTION, IMPLACABLE, UNMERCIFUL, who knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death (in the judgement of God), not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them.

    And in verse 26 & 27 it says that because of their choice of behavior “God gave them up unto vile affections….verse 28 says that because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND….and let them choose to commit sin. Exactly what kind of person did you think that you were doing business with? Surely not someone who is seeking God. You are dealing with a person who wants to destroy your right to believe in God and follow your conscience. Recognize reality and stop giving people the opportunity to sue you. They don’t love you. They just want to destroy you and get money while doing it. Even the devil is like a wolf in sheeps clothing seeking someone to devour. And who are they following ? God? No. The devil. And they will act like the one that they choose to follow.

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