Elderly Christian florist files countersuit over refusing to participate in gay 'wedding'
RICHLAND, WA, May 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An elderly florist in Washington state has filed a countersuit against the state Attorney General after being sued for refusing to sell flowers for a same-sex "wedding."
AG Bob Ferguson says shop-owner Barronelle Stutzman, 68, is guilty of unlawful discrimination for refusing to sell flowers to long-time customer Robert Ingersoll for his same-sex “marriage” ceremony.
Stutzman refused her services in this instance because she it would violate her religious beliefs.
Although she provides referrals to other florists who will provide services for same-sex “marriage” ceremonies, lawsuits allege that Stutzman is unlawfully discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation. The state is seeking $2,000 per offense and a permanent injunction that would require the shop to violate its conscience or stop selling flowers for wedding ceremonies altogether.
Stutzman is facing a separate suit filed by a customer who self-identifies as homosexual.
She has a previous history of serving, and employing, self-identified homosexuals.
Now, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a countersuit, Arlene’s Flowers v. Ferguson, on Stutzman’s behalf.
ADF explains that the state’s lawsuit “is attempting to force Stutzman to act contrary to her religious convictions in violation of her constitutional freedoms.”
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“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions,” said ADF senior legal counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.”
He added, “It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”
In additional to federal constitutional protections, the Washington State Constitution also protects “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief, and worship,” as stated in Article 1, Section 11.
Stutzman has set up a fund for her defense. Donations can be sent to:
1275 Lee Blvd
Richland, WA 99352