Barronelle Stutzman, a 77-year-old great-grandmother, loved arranging flowers for her customers. She serviced all kinds of customers without regard to what they did in their private lives. A man she called a “dear friend,” Rob Ingersoll, obviously knew this about her, and he knew she does not support homosexual “marriage.” Yet Ingersoll asked Stutzman to arrange flowers for his “wedding” to another man.
Stutzman declined, citing her beliefs. She wouldn’t use her God-given artistic talents to make flower arrangements for services that conflicted with her religious belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Stutzman gave Ingersoll recommendations for other florists and thought they’d parted on good terms. He also could have bought pre-arranged flowers, but he didn’t. He decided to punish his Christian “friend.”
Ingersoll complained, and the state’s attorney general and the ACLU went after Stutzman’s business and her personally. She faced the loss of her home, business, and life savings.
Stutzman defended herself but lost in the Washington Supreme Court. She appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent her case back and ordered the court to reconsider in light of its ruling in a similar case against Christian baker Jack Phillips. Two homosexuals sued him for refusing to make a custom “wedding” cake. The high court ruled in his favor and held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated him unfairly and his religious beliefs with contempt.
The state’s highest court ruled against Stutzman again. She appealed again to the Supreme Court, which turned down her request for reconsideration.
Stutzman has decided to give up the fight after almost a decade — with her conscience intact. She’s also retiring from her flower shop. From Alliance Defending Freedom, her legal counsel (emphasis added):
A settlement agreement secured by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys with the ACLU ends a lawsuit brought against floral artist Barronelle Stutzman nearly a decade ago without forcing her to act against her religious beliefs or to pay potentially ruinous attorneys’ fees—a threat she has endured for years. Stutzman has chosen to retire so her beloved employees can run her business, Arlene’s Flowers. She will withdraw a pending petition for rehearing at the U.S. Supreme Court and make a payment of only $5,000 to the two men who sued her.
Stutzman said she’s never had to compromise her conscience “or go against my faith. I’ve met so many, many kind and wonderful people, who’ve generously offered me their prayers and encouragement and support. And I’ve been blessed with outstanding attorneys through Alliance Defending Freedom who’ve given me not only their legal skills, but their thoughtful friendship.
“I’m thankful that God’s love has sustained me through all of the trials and challenges of these last few years. There is a great deal of division at work in our country today, but God has shown me again and again that His love is stronger than the anger and the pain so many are feeling. And He’s given me countless opportunities to share His love with others along the way.”
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