Featured Image

RICHLAND, WA, February 20, 2015 ( – A Washington State Superior Court judge ruled this week that politicians have the power to restrict religious actions and expression.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom ruled that while the religious beliefs of florist Barronelle Stutzman related to marriage is protected by the U.S. Constitution, living her life in accordance with her faith is not.

Stutzman is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington. A business owner for nearly 40 years, she was sued twice for allegedly violating the state's “Consumer Protection Act,” because she refused to furnish flowers for a homosexual “marriage” service. The Act denies business owners religious liberty when it comes to sexual orientation, regardless of the owner's sincerely held beliefs.

In his decision, Ekstrom said that the 2006 law is constitutional. “For over 135 years, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that laws my prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief,” he ruled.

He said that “in trade and commerce, and more particularly when seeking to prevent discrimination in public accommodations,” legislatures are allowed “to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory.” Ekstrom ruled that this applies “even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”

The case goes back nearly two years ago, when Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed asked Stutzman to provide flower arrangements for their “marriage.” Stutzman, who had an existing professional relationship with Ingersoll, said in a deposition that “I just put my hands on his and told him because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I couldn’t do that, couldn’t do his wedding.”

The former customers are seeking $7.91 in damages, to cover the cost of driving to another floral shop, and Stutzman faces up to $2,000 in fines plus the cost of legal fees because of charges filed by the state of Washington.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said when he filed charges nearly two years ago. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

Stutzman, who is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, has said she will appeal Ekstrom's decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is backing Ingersoll and Freed, declined to comment to LifeSiteNews.

In a public statement, the legal director for the secularist advocacy group's state chapter said that “religious beliefs do not give any of us a right to ignore the law or to harm others because of who they are. When gay people go to a business, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against.”

However, conservative blogger Erick Erickson decried the decision, telling LifeSiteNews that “the judge should have allowed free expression of religion by allowing the florist to opt out, particularly since it was well established she would otherwise serve gay customers.”

Erickson, who compared extreme gay rights activists to Islamic extremists in a post about Stutzman's case, also said that “states should allow Christians to opt out of having to provide goods and services to gay weddings.”