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Category Archives: Washington

The Battle Continues in Washington State

Alliance Defending Freedom, a recent March for Marriage sponsor and partner of NOM, is leading the fight to protect Washington State florist Barronelle Strutzman, who was ordered to pay penalties and attorneys’ fees when she declined to provide the flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony:

ThinkstockPhotos-496514511ADF filed notices of appeal in April on behalf of Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, after a lower state court ruled that she must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred the customer, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support.

“Americans oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to create expression against their will,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “Barronelle and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages. No one should be faced with a choice between their freedom of speech and conscience on one hand and personal and professional ruin on the other.”

“People in creative professions regularly have to make decisions about where they lend their artistic talents and the events in which they will participate,” Stutzman said. “For me, it’s never about the person who walks into the shop, but about the message I’m communicating when someone asks me to ‘say it with flowers.’ We should all have artistic freedom and the right to disagree without one side of a conversation being threatened by the government.”

You can read the full article via The Global Dispatch.

There's Something Different About a Wedding: Same-sex Marriage Affects Everyone

In a recent article from The Washington Post, Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, defends her decision to abstain from providing flowers for her friend’s same-sex wedding ceremony:

ThinkstockPhotos-479346023I’ve been a florist in Richmond, Wash., for more than 30 years. In that time, I’ve developed close relationships with many of my clients.

One of my favorites was Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll came in often and we’d talk. Like me, he had an artistic eye. I’d try to create really special arrangements for him. I knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter — I enjoyed his company and his creativity.

Then he asked me to create the floral arrangements for his wedding. I love Rob, and I’d always been happy to design for his special days. But there’s something different about a wedding.

Ultimately, Stutzman decided to act according to her religious conscience, and had to turn down the offer:

When I told Rob, I felt terrible that I couldn’t share this day with him, as I’d shared so many with him before. I took his hands and said, “I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” Rob said he understood, and that he hoped his mom would walk him down the aisle, but he wasn’t sure. We talked about how he got engaged and why they decided to get married after all these years. He asked me for the names of other flower shops. I gave him the names of three floral artists that I knew would do a good job, because I knew he would want something very special. We hugged and he left.

I never imagined what would happen next. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued me after hearing in the media what had happened. That was shocking. Even more surprising, Rob and his partner Curt, with their ACLU attorneys, filed suit shortly thereafter. A judge ruled against me, but this week, with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, I appealed.

We’ve always heard that same-sex marriage would never affect anyone aside from the same-sex couples who wanted to be married. But a judge recently told me that my freedom to live and work according to my beliefs about marriage expired the day same-sex marriage became the law in my state.

You can read the full article here.

Thou Shall Compromise Thy Faith

Despite the fact that the Washington State Constitution reads:

SECTION 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion;

Religious FreedomThat state continues to be at the forefront of sanctioning people of faith when it comes to same-sex marriage.  First the State sued a Christian florist, and now it has admonished a judge for simply saying he would not perform same-sex weddings due to his religious beliefs.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Thurston County Superior Court judge has been formally admonished for saying he wouldn’t perform gay marriages.

Judge Gary Tabor first made the comments during an administrative meeting shortly before Washington’s gay marriage law took effect late last year. He told colleagues he wasn’t comfortable performing same-sex weddings and asked if other judges would do it in his stead. (Read More)

So we ask, “What does ‘Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment…’actually mean in Washington State?”

Church of Scotland May Be Forced to Halt All Weddings if SSM is Legalized

I remember sitting with a co-worker in Washington State this time last year marveling, in a not so good way, that our nation is even having a debate about the nature of marriage. Marriage – the institution that crosses all cultural and historical boundaries – that has literally stood the ultimate test of time – and here we are in the western world thinking, “Maybe we should change it?” It’s crazy sad that we are even having the discussion.

St Andrews Cathedral, ScotlandBut when we contemplate redefining marriage, we must also contemplate a whole host of consequences. And right now, the Kirk (church) of Scotland is having one of those sad crazy discussions as they consider whether they should stop celebrating wedding ceremonies at all – for straight or gays. The Kirk is deeply concerned that if the Scottish government redefines marriage they will have no choice but to stop performing them altogether.

Before you think this is just fear-mongering, remember that in England, a same-sex couple is already suing the Church of England because the church won’t marry them. Or as one of the men said, “I’m not getting what I want.” So I’ll sue Christians.

It is crazy sad that churches have to have these discussions. But when we redefine marriage there are a myriad of known and unknown consequences that we will have to deal with.

Frankly the only answer is to not redefine marriage in the first place.

Cardinal Wuerl: “Truth is Never Discrimination”

Never be afraid to speak the truth about marriage. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington wrote on his blog last week:

Cardinal_Wuerl"As state after state considers changing its laws on the definition of marriage, all of us have had to think about the nature of love, the meaning of marriage and the teaching of the Gospel.

“In the debate over the nature of marriage, even the White House chose to use words like ‘discrimination’ to describe the position of people of good faith who simply disagree with the President’s stance.” And in states where the legal definition of marriage has been challenged in the legislature and/or the courts, “words like ‘bigotry,’ ‘discrimination’ and ‘hatred’ have been bandied about with nothing more to support them than the actual fact that some people think that the definition of marriage really and truly is between a man and a woman.

“Too often the people who claim to be able to read the minds of other people and thus can denounce them as bigots are prepared to say in the next breath not only are your opinions not welcome, but neither are you any longer.” -Marriage: Unique for a Reason

Get Ready for Washington Post to Get a Whole Lot More One-Sided About Marriage Debate

Media bias favoring marriage redefinition? It may be nothing new, but the Washington Post may be taking that bias up a notch in the near future. Newsbusters reports that the Post's new owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, spent a reported $2.5 million last year to support same-sex marriage in Washington state.

BezosAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos' $2.5 million pledge to defend Washington's gay-marriage law marks by far his biggest entry into politics and thrusts him into the national debate over the rights of same-sex couples.

The donation, which Bezos made with his wife, MacKenzie, is likely the largest political contribution to a gay-marriage campaign in the country and dwarfs all of Bezos' previous political giving.

It also positions Amazon as a sort of corporate counterpoint to Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain whose president made headlines with recent comments that America risked "God's judgment" by supporting same-sex marriage.

For the record, Bezos's contribution paid off as Washington's Referendum 74 on gay marriage passed last November 52 to 48 percent.

Gay Couple in WA to Christian Florist: Publicly Do Penance, Pay Our Movement $5K, or We Will Sue You

When issues of consequence like this were raised during the campaign against same-sex marriage, the backers of same-sex marriage said things like this would never happen. They went so far as to claim we were lying and that religious freedom was fully protected.

That so-called “protection” didn’t even last a matter of weeks. This is just the latest example that whenever marriage is redefined, it’s the end of full religious liberty for the citizens in that jurisdiction:

After five weeks of biting their tongues, a gay couple in Richland, Washington, ismaking a loaded offer to a florist who refused to sell them flowers based her biblical belief that "marriage is between a man and a woman."

Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed's lawyers, working with the legal powerhouse at the ACLU of Washington, sent a letter today to Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman saying she has two options: (1) She can vow to never again discriminate in her services for gay people, write an apology letter to be published in the Tri-City Herald, and contribute $5,000 to a local LGBT youth center, or (2) she can get sued for violating the Washington State Civil Rights Act.

That's some offer. (The Stranger blog)

Washington State AG Sues Florist For Refusing to Provide Flowers to S-S Ceremony

Like clockwork, those who disagree with gay marriage are being fined and forced out of the public square -- by the state-imposed redefinition of marriage:

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide wedding flowers to a same-sex couple.

The complaint was filed in Benton County on Tuesday against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers and Gifts in Richland. The lawsuit is in response to a March 1 incident where she refused service to longtime customer Robert Ingersoll. Stutzman did not return a call Tuesday night seeking comment. Ferguson had sent a letter on March 28 asking her to comply with the law, but said Stutzman's attorneys responded Monday saying she would challenge any state action to enforce the law. Washington state voters upheld a same-sex marriage law in November, and the law took effect in December. The state's anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2006 to include sexual orientation.

Ferguson seeks a permanent injunction requiring the store to comply with the state's consumer protection laws and seeks at least $2,000 in fines. (AP)

AP: Analysis Shows GOP Legislators Who Support SSM Lose Their Seats

An important news story by Patrick Condon in the Associated Press confirms what we have been highlighting for a long time -- Republicans who betray their base on marriage place their political future in serious jeopardy:

As some Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature weigh whether to support legalizing same-sex marriage, an analysis of gay-marriage votes from other states shows that GOP lawmakers who backed it often faced consequences, including loss of their seats.

... Republicans inclined to back gay marriage face risks.

"It was largely responsible for my loss," said Jean White, a former Republican state senator in Colorado whose 2011 vote for civil unions became an issue in a primary challenge by a fellow Republican...

According to roll call votes, in the eight times nationwide that state legislatures voted for gay marriage, just 47 Republicans bucked the party line out of many hundreds who voted against it.

Of those 47 Republicans who voted yes starting in 2009, 21 are in office today.

In New York, one of four Republican senators who supported gay marriage is still in the Legislature. One lost a primary, one retired, and one lost the general election after narrowly winning a bitter primary.

A New Hampshire Republican representative lost a primary after her 2009 vote for gay marriage, and in Maryland the former Senate Republican leader relinquished his leadership post when he started working with Democrats on a gay-marriage bill that passed last year.

"I got a lot of flak, a lot," said that senator, Allan Kittleman. He's planning to leave the Senate this year to run for a county office instead.

In Washington, which passed gay marriage in 2012, two of six Republicans who backed the bill are no longer in office.

After SSM, Washington State to Remove Terms "Husband" and "Wife" from Marriage Certificates

KIRO TV:

With a week until same-sex couples can register to be married in Washington, state workers are scrambling to get the right paperwork approved so there is no confusion when gay couples file to marry.

Next Thursday, gay couples can go to their county auditor's office and fill out the forms for marriage, but the forms will likely be different from those that are currently available.

The Department of Health is taking public comment Wednesday to make the current forms more gender neutral.

Jill Mullins drove from Seattle to Olympia Wednesday morning so she could say what she thinks about the proposed change to marriage and divorce certification forms.

The current forms ask for the bride’s name and signature and the groom’s legal information.

But with the legalization of gay marriage, the Department of Health is proposing to make the forms more generic, using instead “spouse A and spouse B.”

“I like it much better than having bride and groom and having that gender denomination,” said Mullins.

But Mullins said the form is not perfect for her.

"People across the board don't like taking away the terms husband and wife,” she said.

Mullins said gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens worked hard to get access to the terms “husband and wife.”

Post-Marriage Election Round-Up: Statements from (Arch)bishops and Catholic Conferences -- Disappointment, Gratitude, Resolve

From the Marriage, Unique for a Reason blog run by the U.S. Bishops:

In addition to Archbishop Cordileone’s statement expressing disappointment about the results of the four marriage referenda, Archbishops, Bishops, and Catholic Conferences in the four states where voters voted to redefine marriage on Tuesday have released statements. Their words echo Cardinal Dolan’s conviction, expressed in a statement released after the election: “We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.”

Read the statements by the Catholic bishops and Catholic conferences in the four states here.

NOM's Peters: "Turnout" Key to Defending Marriage

Charlie Butts at OneNewsNow:

Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington state are voting to protect marriage or to redefine it to be a genderless institution. As Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) notes, the campaign is in the final hours.

"This is all about getting out the vote and turning out people," he contends. "There's been a lot of focus on polling in all these four states, but the line I keep using -- and it's the truth -- is that the polls don't matter. Hard work and who votes matter. Those are who win elections."

... Peters submits there are three keys to gaining success in all four states Tuesday: "turnout, turnout, turnout."

Today is Election Day: How To Protect Marriage!

If you live in one of the four states voting on marriage today here is how to protect it!

"We Are Catholics and We Oppose Referendum 74 to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage"

Tom Matthews, Bob Kelly and Pia de Solenni write in the Seattle Times:

WE are lay Catholic leaders in Washington state. We support and love our Catholic Church and her teachings on marriage. We support our bishops, priests and laity who courageously defend her. When they are seriously misrepresented, our consciences compel us to speak up.

This past Sunday, an ad claiming to represent the views of 1,000 Catholics was published in four major newspapers across the state. While they are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, they do not accurately represent Catholic teaching, nor are they representative of the local Catholic population, which numbers about 1 million.

We oppose Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage on the Nov. 6 ballot, and we represent ourselves, as well as the Seattle Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the Knights of Columbus of Washington State and other leaders.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is a bond that is set apart because it unites the couple in a way that no other bond does. It is also procreative because marital intimacy naturally leads to the birth of children.

... it should be noted that there are currently 9,863 domestic partnerships in Washington, representing only 0.0029 percent of the entire state population.

Not only would Referendum 74 allow the state legislation changing the legal definition of marriage to go into effect, but it could directly affect the First Amendment rights of the U.S. Constitution: the freedoms of religion, conscience and free speech for those who, like us, have different values. We would be forced to accept a legal definition of marriage that signifies a genderless institution."

Washington State Catholic Bishops Take Campaign for Marriage to Prayer and Pulpit

SeattlePI:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle website is topped by three videos of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain arguing against same-sex marriage,  but a newly posted “Prayer in Defense of Marriage” seems to carry a similar anti-Referendum 74 message.  A passage:

“May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society to treasure the heroic love of husband and wife, and guide our leaders to sustain and protect the singular place of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children.”

... After a fiery pastoral letter last month from Bishop Joseph Tyson, the Diocese of Yakima website currently carries the headline:  “Why a good person can vote against same-sex marriage.”