A florist who refused to serve a gay couple has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear her case.
Washington state flower shop owner Barronelle Stutzman has waged a lengthy legal battle over a discrimination case, after refusing to serve a gay couple.
Robert Ingersoll and his partner Curt Freed had been customers at her flower shop for years, but Stutzman told them she wouldn’t provide wedding flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ”.
After the couple complained, state courts ruled that she violated the state’s anti-discrimination law – but she fought back, arguing that requiring her to serve gay people violates her “artistic freedom”.
Despite claiming in the media that the lawsuit could leave her destitute and bankrupt, Stutzman has free legal representation from an anti-LGBT law firm and has rejected offers to settle the case for a small amount of money.
This week her law firm, the Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, urging the court to take up the case.
Stutzman claimed: “The state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ.
“I’m not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn’t promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference.”
The ADF, which is representing Stutzman for free, is also behind a similar case of a Colorado bakery that refused to serve a gay couple, which the Supreme Court has already taken up.
The hardline evangelical law firm is listed as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, due to its extreme beliefs, such as overtly supporting the criminalisation of gay sex.
In a release, ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said: “If the government can ruin Barronelle for peacefully living and working according to her faith, it can punish anyone else for expressing their beliefs.
“The government shouldn’t have the power to force a 72-year-old grandmother to surrender her freedom in order to run her family business. Anyone who supports the First Amendment rights that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all of us should stand with Barronelle.”
“Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns.
“This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home. Not only does her case and Jack Phillips’ case involve similar issues, but both Barronelle and Jack face burdensome penalties for simply exercising their right of free expression.”
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