Friday, February 20, 2015

Anti-gay groups clearly lying about possible fate of Washington state florist

An excellent publication, The New Civil Rights Movement which is run by a good colleague of mine (David Badash), pointed something out which I want to piggyback on because I want to make as much people as possible know this:

"Barronelle Stutzman is now going to lose her business, her life savings, and possibly her own home for putting her faith into practice," Fox News' Erick Erickson claimed, incorrectly, yesterday.
Stutzman "stands to lose her business, her home, and her personal savings," a CNN op-ed today wrongly claimed.

And The Heritage Foundation ran this apparently fictive piece today:
In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decision—and its accompanying fines—will put her flower shop out of business, or worse.
After the fines and legal fees, “There won’t be anything left,” Stutzman said. “They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet.”

According to the Huffington Post, this is the story:

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom found that the florist (Stutzman) violated consumer protections when she wouldn't sell flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime customer because of her religious beliefs. The couple was protected by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits bias based on sexual orientation, the court ruled.

Since that time religious right and conservative outlets have been pushing the idea that Stutzman is in danger of losing her home and business. To them, she has become the face of their argument for so-called "religious liberty," or the idea using religious beliefs as an excuse for businesses to discriminate mainly against lgbts. As you read above, they have been emphasizing the idea that Stutzman could lose her home, life savings, and business. Even the American Family Association sent the following out:

But the notion that Stutzman could lose her home, life savings, etc for supposedly "opposing gay marriage" is a deliberate stretching of the truth.

Today, Badash pointed something out:

"Washington's anti-discrimination law allows for penalties of up to $2,000 per violation, as well as legal fees," the Huffington Post reports.

Imagine everyone's surprise when the state of Washington today offered to settle with Stutzman for that $2000. And imagine everyone's surprise when Stutzman refused to settle.

"Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about," Stutzman wrote in her response to State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important."

Attorney General Ferguson made clear he isn't out to bankrupt the veteran business owner.

“My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the Defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” AG Ferguson said in a statement.

In other words, the idea expressed by conservative and religious right groups that Stutzman will be financially ruined  for losing her lawsuit against the gay couple is a carefully plotted out talking point, albeit one which omits main several facts.

Now if Stutzman refuses to settle, that is certainly her right. But here are some questions.

Does she, as a Christian she claims to be, and religious right groups, as organizations supposedly standing up for truth, think its a wholesome value to nudge this situation to a point where they point the finger at the lgbt community for her supposed ruin?

Why don't they just admit that she refuses to settle? Why are they clearly pushing the lie that gays are trying to "ruin" Stutzman? Why can't they just say that she is "standing on principle?"

And in all honesty, will this situation really end with her financial ruin, regardless of her refusal to settle?

I think Jeremy Hooper of Goodasyou can put it better than I can:

The Alliance Defending Freedom pounced on her, just like they pounce on most of these cases, mere days after her story came to light. Had a non-activist legal group that didn't want to use her for fundraising gotten to her first, then maybe they could have described to her the practical problems of flouting nondiscrimination law (as the law applies to *any* group). Had that happened, maybe Ms. Stutzman would have rested on the idea, considered the objective points to which she had been enlightened, and made a better choice. But that's not what happened. Instead the ADF convinced her that she had a winning case and that they would be the ones to win it. This was a lie from the start. It was a false setup that had far more to do with conservative activism than it did with fair application of concrete civil law.

It's very sad that people who claim to be supporting Christian values use tactics which are most un-Christian.


Erica Cook said...

you know the old saying, lie with dogs, you get flees.

JCF said...

"Anti-gay groups clearly lying"

This is news?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Erica, isn't the saying "Lie (and talk) down to clients and you get fees"?

James Hagerty said...

I just wish there wasn't anything like Christian bigotry! Jesus loved everybody, Christians only love a select few!