Dear Marriage Supporter,
In April 2013, we reported to you that Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was bringing a lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington. Her "crime" was declining to arrange flowers for a same-sex 'wedding' ceremony because participation in such an event would be out of keeping with her beliefs as a Christian that marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.
On Wednesday of this week, a state judge handed down the ruling in the case against Stutzman, saying that Stutzman's choice to refer the clients to another florist was a violation against Washington state law. Of note, the judge admitted that the legalization of same-sex 'marriage' in 2012 is what created the legal environment in which this good and decent woman could be sued. Incredibly, he flatly rejected her position that the constitution protects her right to religious freedom, claiming that citizens have the right only to believe what they wish, not to act on that belief!
Here's more from Alliance Defending Freedom [emphases added]:
A state judge ruled Wednesday that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith...
The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys' fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. That means the 70-year-old grandmother may not only lose her business, but also her home and savings because she lives her life and operates her business according to her beliefs.
"The message of these rulings is unmistakable: the government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don't help celebrate same-sex marriage," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the court in December. "The two men had no problem getting the flowers they wanted. They received several offers for free flowers, and the marketplace gives them plenty of options. Laws that are supposed to prohibit discrimination might sound good, but the government has begun to use these laws to hurt people — to force them to conform and to silence and punish them if they don't violate their religious beliefs on marriage."
What we have playing out in the state of Washington and in many other places in the country is the twisted spectacle that a stated and foundational constitutional right — our first freedom, religious liberty — is somehow trumped by a trumped up "right" to same-sex 'marriage,' something that doesn't exist yet we are all required to celebrate it. All of this in the name of "tolerance" and fairness?!
The ruling comes only a fortnight after an Associated Press-GfK poll that showed a solid majority of Americans think that wedding-related businesses should be free to decline participation in same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies if the owners have religious objections.
But same-sex 'marriage' radicals continue to claim that the majority of Americans is on their side and that they are on the "right side of history," despite their continued unwillingness to let the American people decide these matters for themselves and their concerted effort instead to force this agenda through the courts and have unelected judges dictate a new legal definition of marriage and family to the entire country.
They hope that the nation's highest court will do just that this April, when the court takes up the question of whether the federal Constitution demands the redefinition of marriage. And their hopes have probably been fueled by recent (flagrantly irresponsible) remarks by one of the Justices on the Supreme Court, liberal doyen Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg gave an interview recently in which she revealed her deep bias in favor of redefining marriage, saying:
In recent years, people have said, 'This is the way I am.' And others looked around, and we discovered it's our next-door neighbor — we're very fond of them. Or it's our child's best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that 'this is who I am,' the rest of us recognized that they are one of us.
Ginsburg's position is not very surprising, of course—she has herself officiated same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies in the past—but her "astounding indiscretion" (to use one legal scholar's phrase) in voicing this opinion on a pending case is a very disturbing development.
Notably, Ginsburg didn't talk about how many of us have next-door neighbors—of whom we're very fond—that try to make a living baking cakes or selling flowers or taking pictures and try to engage these services in a way that is in keeping with their faith and the dictates of their conscience. She didn't talk about how these business owners are increasingly being harassed and persecuted because they don't feel comfortable celebrating 'marriages' between members of the same-sex, which are considered illegitimate according to their religious beliefs.
Ginsburg indicated that she thinks the country is ready for same-sex 'marriage,' but she neglected to take note of the recent poll that showed Americans still believe in the First Amendment; that they aren't "ready" to have the fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression stripped away for anyone who doesn't want to go along with this court-imposed radical redefinition of the family.
Ginsburg didn't make note of these other things because, by all appearances, Ginsburg has already made up her mind. And that's why NOM and others are demanding that she recuse herself from this case. If you haven't joined this effort and signed the petition, please do so today—and urge your friends and family to do the same.
We cannot afford to "stand by and do nothing" in the face of this radical agenda being forced through the courts that will threaten the livelihood of good people like Barronelle Stutzman who simply want to conduct their business affairs in accord with their faith and the demands of their conscience.
To "stand by and do nothing" is what, alas, too many of the American people, and too many of our leaders in Washington, seem willing to do. But one heroic leader who refuses to do so is Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.
Representative Huelskamp penned a column this week for TownHall.com which I encourage you to read. Here's a preview:
The Supreme Court will soon consider four... cases involving the mandate of same-sex 'marriage.' Those decisions, expected to be handed down from on high in June, have the potential to invalidate and criminalize future debate on this issue, just like Roe v. Wade tried to do with abortion. That is why I reintroduced the Marriage Protection Amendment this Congress. This Constitutional amendment reaffirms the plain and simple truth: marriage is a union between one man and one woman and no federal judge can say otherwise.
Allowing unelected federal judges — whose judicial impartiality on this matter is highly suspect—to impose a radical, offensive and flatly incorrect redefinition of marriage on the whole of American society is nothing less than an affront to our Republic and the principles upon which it was conceived. I refuse to stand by and do nothing while our country and the ideals that inspired its founding are eroded under our feet.
Congressman Huelskamp's federal Marriage Protection Amendment is a great initiative which demands our support. He goes on, in concluding his piece, to urge us to get involved; and his call to action must inspire us:
I refuse to stand by and do nothing while our country and the ideals that inspired its founding are eroded under our feet.
You shouldn't either. Call your Member of Congress, write them letters, send them emails, post on Facebook, tweet your thoughts, shout it from the rooftops; do whatever it takes to make it known that you stand for traditional marriage, for religious freedom, for our families, and for our children. Tell them you won't give all that up without a fight.
Amen! But I want to add one more suggestion of a way you can "shout from the rooftops" your support for traditional marriage and religious freedom: the March for Marriage.
This April 25th, right around the time that the Supreme Court sits to hear oral arguments in the cases that Congressman Huelskamp mentions above, we are going to gather en masse in Washington, DC and remind the Justices on the bench that the American people demand to be heard as well.
We will remind them that traditional marriage still enjoys wide and deep support around the country. We will remind them that tens of millions of voters in dozens of states have gone to the polls and acted through the democratic process to defend marriage, and they are not willing to have this power stripped away from them by unelected judges enforcing a warped reading of the constitution.
We will remind them that injustices like the one being perpetrated against Barronelle Stutzman are completely unacceptable, and that we will not "stand by and do nothing" in the face of this tyrannical intolerance. In the Congressman's words, we "won't give up without a fight."
Marriage Supporter, I hope you will commit to joining us on April 25th in Washington to speak truth to power at this critical time. I hope you will stand up for the Barronelle Stutzmans of our nation, whose fundamental freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment are under unprecedented attack.
Thousands of your fellow citizens will be taking this unique opportunity to "shout from the rooftops" in defense of marriage and family and the freedoms we hold dear. I know I can count on you to add your voice.
Brian S. Brown