Thursday, November 18, 2021

Florist agrees to pay settlement to gay couple (after almost a decade of playing the victim)

Hopefully Barronelle Stutzman has used up her 15 minutes of fame as a 'Christian victim.'

On Thursday, the LGBTQ community received a good bit of news that a religious right tactic intended to enshrine homophobic discrimination as law suffered another setback.

From NBC News:

A settlement was reached Thursday in the nearly decade-old case of a Christian flower shop owner in Washington state who refused to provide a same-sex couple flowers for their wedding despite the state's anti-discrimination laws. The U.S. Supreme Court left intact the state court rulings against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, in July. Shortly afterward, Stutzman petitioned for a rehearing. Stutzman withdrew her petition Thursday and agreed to pay a settlement of $5,000 to the couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. 

 . . . The case dates to 2013, when Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the couple's wedding. She said it would violate her Southern Baptist beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” Using an argument similar to that of Colorado baker Jack Phillips in the hot-button 2018 Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Stutzman argued that her floral arrangements are works of art and that having to create them for same-sex weddings would trample on her freedom of expression. 

A lower court ruled in 2015 that Stutzman broke a Washington law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple in 2017 and then again in 2019, finding that selling flowers for a wedding “does not inherently express a message about that wedding.”

Stutzman's case, as well as that of Jack Phillips and several others, were played up in the media by conservative and religious right groups in claiming that laws protecting LGBTQ Americans would automatically lead to anti-religious discrimination. And while these groups sounded the alarm for small business owners such as Stutzman and Phillips, there was a belief that their goal was to generate a precedent in which personal religious beliefs could be seen as a viable excuse for anti-LGBTQ discrimination even in secular enterprises. And also that non-discrimination laws created to protect LGBTQ Americans would be automatically seen by their nature as discriminatory against religion.

In Stutzman's case, religious right and conservative groups were falsely claiming that she stood to lose her business, her livelihood, and her savings because of the case. Stutzman herself fully participated in spreading this lie. But in 2019, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that she would have been given a $1,000 court ordered penalty and also fined $1 in attorney fees. 

The courts, including SCOTUS, short circuited any belief that religious beliefs are a justification for anti-LGBTQ discrimination. When they would rule for the business owner in these cases, the decision would be incredibly narrow and actually underscored the fact that LGBTQ Americans deserved protection from discrimination.  This also took place in other cases such as the Fulton case earlier this year in which religious right groups argued that Christian adoption and foster care agencies have a right to LGBTQ tax dollars even if they practice anti-LGBTQ discrimination. While though ruling for the Christian adoption agency against the city of Philadelphia, the court struck that notion down.

'D.C. Corrections officer sues department over anti-gay harassment' & other Thur midday news briefs

D.C. Corrections Officer Sues Department Over Antigay Harassment - And I hope he wins. 

These new, LGBTQ+ holiday films and series are going to make the yuletide hella gay this holiday season! - Thank you for making the 'yuletide gay' comment, which no doubt others have been repeating this entire holiday season.