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‘THEN I WAS SUED’: Read Passionate Defense From Grandma Florist Sued For Refusing To Service Gay Wedding

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Casey Harper Contributor

The Washington florist who is being sued by an old friend for refusing to provide flowers for a gay wedding ceremony wrote an article explaining her experience and defending her stance in the Seattle Times Tuesday.

Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, had done floral arrangements for gay customers in the past, including the couple suing her, but says she declined to do them for a gay wedding ceremony because it would be contrary to her faith.

The same-sex couple sued her and won, but lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group representing Stutzman, filed an appeal in April with the Washington State Supreme Court. In the Tuesday article, Stutzman, who says she still considers the man she refused a friend, gives her side of the story.

If all he’d asked for were prearranged flowers, I’d gladly have provided them. If the celebration were for his partner’s birthday, I’d have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance.

Marriage does celebrate two people’s love for one another, but its sacred meaning goes far beyond that. Surely without intending to do so, Rob was asking me to choose between my affection for him and my commitment to Christ. As deeply fond as I am of Rob, my relationship with Jesus is everything to me. Without Christ, I can do nothing.

I’m not ashamed of that, but it was a painful thing to try to explain to someone I cared about — one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But Rob assured me he understood. And I suggested three other nearby florists I knew would do an excellent job for this celebration that meant so much to him. We seemed to part as friends.

But then I was sued.

Stutzman’s article comes after the same-sex couple that filed the lawsuit ran a piece Oct. 31 in the Seattle Times titled, “Why We Sued Our Favorite Florist: Marriage Equality Must Be Truly Equal.”

In the article, partners Curt Freed and Rob Ingersoll tell the story of their decision to get married and how Stutzman made them feel “categorized, depersonalized, labeled.”

Instead of being met with the service we would expect any business owner to provide his or her customers, we were turned away for being gay. We had been buying each other flowers from Arlene’s Flowers for special occasions and celebrations for years. To us, we were just honoring the love we have for each other. But all of a sudden, it was as if we were no longer seen as Curt and Rob, or even regular customers, but as gay marriage personified.

We were reminded how discrimination works: Individuals are categorized, depersonalized, labeled.

The ACLU is representing the couple in the lawsuit. The case could go to the Supreme Court and resolve this dispute for good. Several private wedding vendors have been hit with discrimination suits for refusing to service gay couples. This case or other similar cases, such as a Colorado baker refusing to bake wedding cakes and an Oregon bakery doing the same, could go to the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately decide the issue.

“I want to believe that a state as diverse as Washington, with our long commitment to personal and religious freedoms, would be as willing to honor my right to make those kinds of choices as it is to honor Rob’s right to make his,” Stutzman writes in the article. “That’s not endorsing a negative thing, as I’ve been accused of doing. It’s promoting good things: reason, fairness and mutual tolerance.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.