In Washington State, you can no longer run your own business according to your values, according to a ruling issued today against Barronelle Stutzman.
The 72-year-old floral artist was working at Arlene’s Flowers in Washington state when a dear customer, Rob Ingersoll, walked in and announced he was getting married. When he told her that he wanted her to do the wedding flowers, Barronelle knew she couldn't use her art to support his same-sex matrimony. She explained that her Christianity prohibited her from taking the job, but happily recommended other florists in the area.
Let's pause here for a moment and think about how Americans usually feel about artists using their talents to support causes that go against their values. When fashion designers refused to dress Melania Trump for her husband's inauguration, pundits cheered.
“The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by,” Sophie Theallet wrote, to much acclaim. “I encourage my fellow designers to do the same. Integrity is our only true currency.”
The Washington Post explained why Theallet was right in her refusal:
Like other creative individuals, Theallet sees fashion as a way of expressing her views about beauty and the way women are perceived in society. Fashion is her tool for communicating her world vision. In the same way that a poet’s words or a musician’s lyrics are a deeply personal reflection of the person who wrote them, a fashion designer’s work can be equally as intimate. In many ways, it’s why we are drawn to them. We feel a one-to-one connection.
So how has the liberal left rallied behind Barronelle's refusal to provide her floral creations to Rob? Outrage, physical threats, and bullying.
Her attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom explain why this is an important case:
She serves everyone in her community, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. But even though she serves all people, she cannot use her artistic skills to celebrate all events. In particular, because of her beliefs about marriage, she cannot design custom floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding (although she would be happy to sell premade arrangements or raw flowers to couples planning such an event).
So while she has been glad to serve Rob Ingersoll, a gay man and one of her all-time favorite customers, for nearly a decade (and would be happy to continue doing so today), she could not use her artistic talents for one request—to create custom arrangements designed to celebrate his nuptials.
Alliance Defending Freedom has promised to take this to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But wouldn't it be nice if those fashion designers who stood so tall in dissing Melania Trump would come to the aid of the humble grandmother florist right about now?
We're not holding our breath.