The State of Washington has filed a lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flower Shop for unlawful discrimination. Stutzman, who was perfectly happy to have a gay couple as customers for years, declined to provide flowers for their wedding. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said:
…it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same sex couples the same product or service.
Stutzman has stated that she is not homophobic and that she has gay friends and gay employees, but she cannot do a “gay wedding because of her relationship with Jesus Christ.” I guess, Jesus says it is okay to take money from gay folk up until they want equal rights for marriage — I’m not sure what book in the bible says that, but I’m sure it must be in there somewhere. I also always love the reply, “but some of my best friends are (fill in the appropriate targeted/marginalized population). If Stutzman really does have gay employees, I hope they are able to escape and work someplace else.
Now the rather sticky issue of the law. While the law most certainly does provide for freedom of religion, the other part (usually and most conveniently forgotten) is that religion may not preclude people’s civil rights in the public sphere. Stutzman’s religion also used to reject miscegenation. Does this mean she can reject an interracial marriage? No one is asking Frau Stutzman to abandon her relationship with Jesus. We are asking that she respect the law and allow civil rights for all humans — I guess that idea of civil rights has not reached her Jesus yet.