Series - Arlene's Flowers

Bad Florist? The Arlene's Flowers Case (Part 2)

Read the series.

In the last article, I provided a brief overview of the State v. Arlene’s Flowers case in the State of Washington. In that instance, a Christian florist named Baronelle Stutzman in Richland, WA refused to provide floral arrangements for a same sex marriage. The WA Attorney General’s Office tried to compel Stutzman to provide service, she refused, and the Attorney General’s Office eventually filed suit against her. The case wound its way to the Washington State Supreme Court, which found for the homosexual couple. The matter was remanded back to Washington by the U.S. Supreme Court after it overturned Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission (see my article on oral arguments from that case here).

This case is intriguing because, like the Obergefell and Masterpiece Cakeshop decisions, it’s a foil for how the issue of religious liberty is playing out in the courts. As we see the Court wrestle with the practical policy implications of these issues, the thinking Christians can learn a lot about how to address religious liberty concerns in the real world. 

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Bad Florist? The Arlene's Flowers Case (Part 1)

On 01 March 2013, Robert Ingelsoll strolled into Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, WA. He was a gay man. The shop owner, Barronelle Stutzman, knew him. He’d been a good customer for over nine years and had bought flowers from her shop perhaps 20 times. Ingelsoll estimated he’d spent around $4,500 in her store over the years.

Stutzman knew him to be gay, and had knowingly made and fashioned numerous floral arrangements for Ingelsoll over the years for events such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. On these occasions, Stutzman was aware Ingelsoll intended these arrangements for his romantic partner, Curt Freed.1

Today, however, was different. Ingersoll was planning his wedding, and he wanted Arlene’s Flowers to handle the floral arrangements. At a later deposition, Stutzman explained how the conversation went:2

Q: Tell me what you remember about your conversation with [Ingelsoll].

A: He came in and we were just chitchatting, and he said that he was going to get married. Wanted something really simple, khaki I believe he said. And I just put my hand on his and told him because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I couldn’t do that, couldn’t do his wedding.

Q: Did you tell him that before he finished telling you what he wanted?

A: He said it was going to be very simple.

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