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Punished by Wash. State for Refusing Gay Couple, Florist Named Best for 2019 by Local Community

06-24-2019

In an ironic twist of events, the Washington state florist who is being punished for refusing to make a floral arrangement for a gay wedding was just named the best florist of 2019 by her local community.

Barronelle Stutzman is the owner of Arlene's Flowers, a floral shop in Richland, Wash. that has been in business for 42 years.  

According to the Tri-City Herald, the flower shop is a community favorite. For the past seven years, the newspaper has been publishing its People's Choice Awards and Arlene's Flowers has been named the Best Florist four times.

"I'd like to think our customer service is a big key," Stutzman told the newspaper

However, Stutzman was fined for refusing to make a floral arrangement for a gay wedding in 2013.  Earlier this month, the Washington state Supreme Court upheld its earlier ruling against her

The case could wind up back in front of the US Supreme Court. 

As CBN News reported last year,  the US Supreme Court had rejected Washington state's previous ruling, ordering the state justices to review their decision against Stutzman and consider whether they violated her religious rights. 

"We now hold that the answer to the Supreme Court's question is no," Washington Supreme Court justices responded earlier this month. "The adjudicatory bodies that considered this case did not act with religious animus when they ruled that the florist and her corporation violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination ... by declining to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple."

Stutzman's case is similar to that of the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which Colorado baker Jack Phillips was accused of discrimination for refusing to bake a customized wedding cake for a gay wedding. 

Like Stutzman, Phillips offered to sell the couple his pre-made products. Like Stutzman, he had also provided previous service to LGBT individuals. But they both say their faith prevents them from creating art that specifically endorses same-sex weddings.

The Supreme Court ruled in Phillips' favor because it said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted with animus towards Phillip's religious beliefs and was in the wrong. However, critics of the decision argued that the Supreme Court's ruling was too narrow, and did not ultimately answer if Phillips can be compelled to produce a product for a customer in violation of his religious beliefs. 

Now the US Supreme Court has the opportunity to review Stutzman's case once again to finally settle the unanswered questions about religious freedom in Phillips' case. 

Stutzman is being represented in her case by the Alliance Defending Freedom.  

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