Barronell Stutzman, a Washington state resident and long time florist, is now asking to take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stutzman has been in ongoing court battles since 2013.
Stutzman was fined by a lower court for refusing to provide her florist services to a same-sex couple for their wedding. She urged the fine to be dropped, as she said she was simply exercising her First Amendment rights.
The 72-year-old gained national spotlight through this incident and became known as the “Christian grandma florist”. Throughout the process, she made it apparent that she was willing to use her skills to serve all people, but did not want to celebrate all events. In fact, the wedding that she refused to service was of one of her long-time customers- Rob Ingersoll.
Kristen Waggoner, Barronell’s attorney, said, “Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.” While they felt that the protection of free speech was of utmost importance, the court rulings said otherwise.
When her case went to the Washington State Supreme Court in 2015, her practice was declared illegal. They court determined that she broke state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. The Washington high court agreed with the decision previously made to fine the florist and held her responsible for paying all legal fees that had accrued.
Now, the Alliance Defending Freedom is pleading the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Barronell’s case as a last stand measure. They are arguing that the entire situation is unconstitutional and that any form of artistic expression should be considered as a form of speech.
They wrote, “For more than four years, Barronelle had endured the litigation in this case with unwavering grace, humility, and faith- even as she faces losing everything she owns. Now she will take her last stand before the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to preserve her religious freedom and her right not to be forced to speak a message about marriage that violates her beliefs.”
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