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Who Is Barronelle Stutzman? New Details On The Florist Who Refused To Make Bouquets For Gay Wedding

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Who Is Barronelle Stutzman? New Details On The Florist Who Refused To Make Bouquets For Gay Wedding

The United States is a country where we as Americans have the right to practice freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Heck, embracing these freedoms are what this country was founded upon. Unfortunately, some people aren't using these laws for good, they are using them to spread prejudice and hate. Such was the case recently in the state of Washington.

When Barronelle Stutzman refused to make custom floral arrangements for a gay wedding, she was promptly sued. She fought back, claiming that it was her religious right to refuse to make these cakes. The State's Supreme Court thought otherwise, and now Baronelle is gearing up for another massive fight. Here's everything you need to know about why she's being sued by a man who used to be her friend. Who is Barronelle Stutzman?

1. Arlene's Flowers 

In 2013, a small floral shop called Arlene's Flowers was sued. The reason is one that's understandable, even if you aren't a litigious person: Arelene's Flowers refused to make floral arrangements for the wedding of two men. The shop's owner, Barronelle Stutzman, claimed that to make the arrangements violated her personal religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage. 

Although that was more than six years ago, the case is still making headlines. Currently, it's in the news because it was rexamined by the Washington State Supreme Court. In 2013, the court ruled that her action went against the state's "Law Against Discrimination". They found in their rexamination that their determination was totally unchanged. But Barronelle isn't backing down. 

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2. Back In Court 

In 2013 when the lower courts first ruled on the case, they agreed that Barronelle did in fact disccriminate against Rob Ingersoll, the man who tried to order the flowers from Barronell's shop. Originally she was told to pay a fine of $1000 and to make sure that in the future she offered same sex couples the same options that she provided to heterosexual partners tying the knot. 

Barronelle wasn't happy with this result, and decided to really lean in to to being anti-gay and took her case to the state's Supreme Court in 2017. When she lost again, she appealed citing the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. The court agreed to take a second look and see if there ought to be a change in the verdict that was initially given regarding her guilt or innocence. 

3. Friends With The Man Who Sued Her 

The thing to me that's the saddest and perhaps most galling thing about this trial, is that prior to the lawsuit, Barronelle and the man who sued her, Rob Ingersoll, were actually really good friends, and he often came into the shop. In a piece for The Seattle Times, Baronelle wrote: "I always liked bouncing off creative ideas with Rob for special events in his life. He understood the deep joy that comes from precisely capturing and celebrating the spirit of an occasion. For 10 years, we encouraged that artistry in each other.”

It's also not like the fact that he was gay was a surprise to her either. She said: “I knew he was in a relationship with a man and he knew I was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of us or threatened our shared creativity — until he asked me to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding.”

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4. Her Beliefs 

According to the Tri-City Herald , Barronelle is an out and proud Southern Baptist. As such, Barronelle believes that her antipathy towards gay marriage is an issue of religious belief. “Rob (Ingersoll) has the freedom to act on his beliefs about marriage, and I am only asking for the same freedom about religion,” she said. In fact, Barronelle even said that she would happily sell them pre-made flowers, but said that since arranging flowers is a form of creative expression she had the right to invoke her freedom of speech. Eye. Roll. 

The Supreme Court however, didn't agree. They determined in 2017 that giving someone a service doesn't mean that you're saying you're cool with how they live. They wrote: “As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism.” They stood by their initial decision. Barronelle was still at fault. 

5. It's Not Over

Through it all Barronelle has been represented by the ADF, a conservative group that helps, well, support people exactly like her. According to the ADF, losing this case could mean that Barronelle loses everything, including her shop. Others, like myself, might argue that the ruling isn't to blame for any loss in business: Barronelle's actions were. The ADF has promised that they aren't done fighting. “But this case is not over. We will be standing with Barronelle as we petition the U.S. Supreme Court once again.” More than $2 million from an anonymous donor has covered her legal fees thus far and ADF seems confident that they will be able to find more money to keep this fight going. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.