Washington State Chipping Away at Religious Freedom

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Consider the case of Barronelle Stutzman of Richland, Washington. As the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that she illegally discriminated against customer Robert Ingersoll when she refused to provide floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding. Despite the fact that Ingersoll was a longtime customer and that Arlene’s Flowers has a long history of both serving and employing homosexuals in the Richland area, Washington authorities and the ACLU contend that her refusal was discriminatory and illegal.

The case won’t officially go to trial until March 23, but Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ackstrom has already struck a blow to the defense. In a ruling Thursday, Ackstrom said that Stutzman could be held personally liable for court costs stemming from the case should she lose the lawsuit. Her lawyers insist that the florist shop was created under a Washington law that protects personal assets except in cases where fraud, deception, or theft occur. None of the three are alleged in this case, making Ackstrom’s ruling seem more like a politically-motivated decision than one based on legal precedent.

An Assault on Religious Beliefs

But that’s par for the course when it comes to this country’s war on freedom of religion. In the fight for gay rights, judges and state officials are cherry-picking what counts as discrimination and what doesn’t. And even though there is nothing in the Constitution guaranteeing the right to get gay married, homosexuals are apparently a protected group, above the law of the land.

The case against Arlene’s Flowers is only one of many examples of states cracking down on a business owner’s right to make decisions based on matters of faith and conscience. Owners of a New York farm were financially sanctioned for refusing to put on gay wedding ceremonies. Elsewhere, a photographer was sued for declining to take pictures for a same-sex wedding. Bakers, florists, wedding officials, and T-shirt makers across the country are realizing that their right to religious freedom takes a backseat to the gay agenda.

It’s stunning to see how obviously hypocritical liberals are willing to be in their pursuit of social justice. These business owners aren’t turning gay people away at the door. They aren’t refusing to hire homosexuals. They are declining to participate in a ceremony that was illegal in all 50 states only a few short years ago.

The left is trying to make this case about a bigoted Christian imposing her will in defiance of the law. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ingersoll had been a customer of Arlene’s Flowers for more than a decade prior to the “discrimination” in question. This is about the government using their powers to force religious-minded entrepreneurs to bend to the will of liberalism. And, in case after case, the liberals are winning.

Why even have a Constitution?