A Washington state florist is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to join the case of Lakewood, Colorado, baker Jack Phillips, who was ordered by a state commission to undergo indoctrination, along with his staff, because he would not use his artistry to promote “gay weddings.”
The request comes from florist Barronelle Stutzman, who was ordered by the Washington state Supreme Court to promote same-sex “weddings” with her floral artistry in violation of her faith.
As punishment for refusing, the state court judges intoned, a court can order her to forfeit her business, savings, retirement funds and home.
WND reported in June when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Phillips case.
Phillips was publicly berated and punished by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – one supposedly neutral commissioner lashed out at him and compared him to a Nazi – when Phillips said he could not use his artistry to promote a same-sex “wedding.”
The Colorado state Supreme Court then refused, without explanation, to intervene, setting up Phillips’ request to the nation’s highest court.
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”
Hear a recording of Rice’s statement:
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending Phillips, said such “animus” in a state is “alarming” and “has no place in civil society.”
ADF said Rice’s comment “suggests that other members of the commission may share her view that people who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman are comparable to those who committed the Holocaust.”
“This anti-religious bias undermines the integrity of the commission.”
The Colorado state Supreme Court, including a justice who boasted on a state website of being a homosexual-rights advocate through the Denver mayor’s GLBT Commission, refused to intervene.
Phillips was targeted by two homosexuals who wanted him to promote their same-sex relationship with a cake. Phillips declined.
Now, ADF, which also is defending Stutzman, has submitted a petition to the high court asking that they be joined, since the issue is identical.
The court in Washington had told Stutzman that there never can be “a free speech exception (be it creative, artistic, or otherwise) to anti-discrimination laws applied to public accommodations.”
That ruling directly elevated homosexual rights above the constitutionally protected religious and speech rights of Americans, even though the state admitted the flowers are a “form of expression.”
The U.S. Supreme Court needs to intervene, ADF argues, to “prevent the state from silencing professional speech creators with dissenting religious views.”
ADF lawyers are asking that the Stutzman case be consolidated with the Phillips case.
“If the government can ruin Barronelle for peacefully living and working according to her faith, it can punish anyone else for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the Washington Supreme Court together with co-counsel George Ahrend last November.
“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.”
Waggoner continued: “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.”
Stutzman confirmed that the customer who brought the complaint, Rob Ingersoll, has been a friend for years.
“There was never an issue with his being gay, just as there hasn’t been with any of my other customers or employees. He just enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him,” she said. “But now 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 First Amendment does not permit [the] oppressive result” imposed by the state court system in Washington, the brief argues, and the state’s demands of her to “violate her right to free speech and her right to the free exercise of religion under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The Washington state Supreme Court oddly found that floral arrangements are “conduct” and subject to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Regarding Phillips’ case, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall, Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for ADF, said Phillips’ ability to make a living and run his family business “shouldn’t be threatened simply because he exercised his artistic freedom.”
“Artists speak through their art, and when Jack creates custom wedding cakes, he is promoting and celebrating the couple’s wedding. Jack will gladly allow anyone to purchase any product he sells, but he simply can’t put his artistic talents to use on a custom cake for an event so at odds with his faith convictions,” he said.
“The ACLU, which is opposing Jack and other artists in Washington and Arizona, would rather use the strong-arm of government to eradicate from the public square people whose views differ from the government’s. We hope the Supreme Court will affirm how illegitimate that is,” said Tedesco.
“In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found in 2015 that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage,” explained ADF, pointing out the double-standard the Colorado government has adopted as practice.
While many bureaucratic and court decisions in recent years have endorsed the homosexual agenda’s requirement that Christians support their cause, several recent decisions just have gone against the tide.
WND reported earlier this month a federal appeals court upheld a Mississippi law that protects the religious freedom of those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that gender is determined at birth.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court not only reversed an injunction imposed by a lower court – preventing the implementation of the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act – it went further and simply dismissed the case.
The ruling found that the individuals and homosexual advocacy organizations who challenged the law didn’t have standing to bring their claims.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the lawsuits, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.
ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot reacted to the ruling.
“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one. The court did the right thing in finding that those who have challenged this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take the law down,” he said.
Theriot explained that the sole purpose of the law is “to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”
WND also reported earlier on a case brought against a T-shirt maker by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission in Kentucky.
The group appealed to the state’s Supreme Court a recent appeals court decision that business owners must serve all people equally but don’t have to treat all messages equally.
It was a T-shirt printer, Blaine Adamson, who, with his company Hands On Originals, was sued by the local Human Rights Commission for refusing to promote “gay” rights.
WND reported in May when the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed a Fayette Circuit Court decision that sided with Adamson, saying he could not be forced, in violation of his faith, to print messages demanded by “gay” customers.
The Alliance Defending Freedom contends the high court should leave the decision alone.
A recent court decision also allows government officials to exempt themselves from performing same-sex “marriages” based on religious faith.
The ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said magistrates in North Carolina can excuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages.