US Supreme Court sends back case against Christian florist sued for rejecting gay ‘wedding’
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Supreme Court announced Monday it was ordering the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its judgment that a Christian florist must provide flowers for a same-sex “wedding” ceremony.
The case stems from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, the proprietor of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, for refusing to provide flowers for a customer’s same-sex "wedding" ceremony. Stutzman had previously served the customer’s every other request for years, and has employed homosexual workers, but her Christian faith compelled her to draw a distinction between serving all individuals and lending her artistic endorsement to celebrations of homosexuality.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled last year that the government may force Christians to serve same-sex “weddings,” and in July 2017, the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
On Monday, the high court vacated the Washington Supreme Court’s decision against Stutzman, and ordered it to consider the case again in light of its ruling earlier this month in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips.
In that case, the court punted on whether Christians can be forced to serve homosexuality-affirming events, but said Colorado had impermissibly denigrated Phillips’ faith in doing so. ADF argues that similar religious animosity is evident in Ferguson’s efforts against Stutzman.
“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 Kristen Waggoner, Senior Vice President of ADF’s U.S. Legal Division. “The U.S. Supreme Court has rightfully asked the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle’s case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.”
Despite the Supreme Court vacating the lower decision, James Esseks of the left-wing ACLU stressed that it “made no decision on the case’s merits,” and expressed confidence that the Washington Supreme Court would reaffirm “rule once again in favor of the same-sex couple.”
Plaintiff Robert Ingersoll “was my customer and friend for over nine years. I knew he was gay, and it was never an issue,” Stutzman herself explained. “The attorney general has always ignored that part of my case, choosing to vilify me and my faith instead of respecting my religious beliefs about marriage.”