Barronelle Stutzman

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, Barronelle Stutzman is off the hook for discriminating against a gay couple because she referred them to other florists who would serve them. Sorry ADF. It doesn’t work that way. What? Are we going to go back more than a half century? At “restricted” hotels Jews were diverted to establishments that didn’t mind a few Israelites.

ADF lawyers know perfectly well that the infraction occurs with “we don’t serve your kind here.” There is no polite way, no civil way, to tell people that their patronage isn’t wanted because they are gay or Jewish or African American or Muslim or any protected class. ADF makes the preposterous statement today that people should be wary of making referrals to other businesses for whatever reason. The truth is that people should be wary of discriminating against others in clear violation of the law.

ADF lawyers also know perfectly well that refusing service and then diverting a would-be customer is not an affirmative defense to a charge of discrimination. In fact, it serves as an admission of the very discrimination that the person has been charged with. The referral is neither the cause for the complaint nor mitigation.

Apparently Ms. Stutzman is so self-absorbed with self-righteous indignation that she thinks that what she did was kind and generous. Moreover, Ms. Stutzman must have a sense of self-importance, presuming that selling flowers for a wedding is somehow doing God’s work. The “kindly grandmother” is, in reality, an arrogant bigot — and she is paying the price for her intolerance.

Some people seem to think that Ms. Stutzman’s experience is a reason to pass right-to-discriminate laws. National Organization for Marriage is championing one today in Arkansas. In point of fact Ms. Stutzman’s bigotry demonstrates why we need these laws in the first place. Behold the bullshit:

Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington grandmother and owner of Arlene’s Flowers, was sued for referring a longtime customer to other florists for his same-sex wedding.

Barronelle had served Rob Ingersoll for 9 years, making floral arrangements for him and his same-sex partner. When he asked her to do his wedding however, she politely declined because she holds the biblical belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. Instead, she referred him to nearby florists who she knew would do a good job for him.

Despite receiving multiple offers for free flowers from other florists, the purported indignity of the referral, which the couple chalked up to discrimination, was troublesome enough that the couple (represented by the ACLU) and the state of Washington sued Barronelle and her business. Last week, a Washington judge somehow concluded that Barronelle’s referral was discrimination in a ruling that puts her business, home, and life savings at risk of being seized by the state to pay for her opponents’ legal fees.

The Washington attorney general offered Barronelle a settlement of $2,001 if she would give up her religious freedom and use her artistic abilities for same-sex weddings. Baronelle rejected the offer and ADF attorneys will appeal the ruling on her behalf.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.