The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a Christian florist from Washington state fined refusing to make a floral arrangement for a same-sex wedding because she felt it went against her religious beliefs about marriage.
In doing so, the Washington Supreme Court ruling against the Christian florist remains intact. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch each said the court should have taken the case.
Though the case dates back to 2013, religious liberty legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom said the fight to defend Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, for standing for her beliefs is not over.
“Barronelle Stutzman kindly served a gay customer for YEARS before declining to make art for a ceremony that's sacred in her religion. She was sued & persecuted for acting on deeply held beliefs,” ADF tweeted after Friday’s decision.
“SCOTUS' decision not to hear this case is disappointing –– but our fight isn't over,” ADF continued.
As a Southern Baptist, Stutzman denied making the floral arrangement for the wedding of Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed because she holds the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
In 2015, she was fined by a county court just over $1,000. She is liable to pay upwards of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled against Stutzman in February 2017. It argued she violated the state's anti-discrimination laws protecting based on sexual orientation when she refused to make floral arrangements for the same-sex wedding.
The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Washington court’s 2017 decision in 2018, sending Arlene's Flowers, Inc. v. Washington et al. back to the court for further consideration.
Citing the 7-2 ruling in favor of Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court asked the Washington high court to consider whether or not there was any animus against the florist’s religious beliefs.
In Phillips’ case, the court found the Colorado government showed hostility against the baker’s Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
The Washington court unanimously upheld its 2017 decision when it heard Stutzman’s case again in June 2019, contending that Stutzman discriminated based on sexual orientation.
“We, therefore, hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case — refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding — constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the [state law],” the ruling reads.
Stutzman was sued by the same-sex couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again,” Ingersoll said in a statement. "We had a small ceremony at home instead. We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”
ACLU attorney Ria Tabacco Mar said that the court's decision "confirmed that LGBTQ people should receive equal service when they walk into a store."
"No one should walk into a store and have to wonder whether they will be turned away because of who they are," she said in a statement. "Preventing that kind of humiliation and hurt is exactly why we have nondiscrimination laws. Yet 60 percent of states still don’t have express protections for LGBTQ people like the kind in Washington State. Our work isn’t over yet.”
Kristen Waggoner, Stutzman's lawyer from ADF, called the court’s decision "tragic.
"[T]he critical work of protecting the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans must continue," Waggoner said, according to CNN. "No one should be forced to express a message or celebrate an event they disagree with."
Waggoner said the right to hold to religious beliefs is constitutionally protected.
“We are confident that the Supreme Court will eventually join those courts in affirming the constitutionally protected freedom of creative professionals to live and work consistently with their most deeply held beliefs,” she said, according to NBC News.
Six out of the nine justices, the majority of the court, were appointed by Republican presidents.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org