Saturday, May 24, 2014

ADF attempts to make Barronelle Stutzman a hero

Barronelle Stutzman – owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, WA – is the imbecile who decided that selling flowers is some sort of religious sacrament. She refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding in violation of Washington's anti-discrimination laws for a public accommodation.

The very purpose of anti-discrimination laws is to prevent people from making decisions about who they will serve. There are no religious exemptions. The ACLU explained this in their letter to Stutzman:
You told Mr. Ingersoll that you would not sell flowers for his and Mr. Freed’s wedding because of your religious beliefs. We respect your beliefs and your right to religious freedom.

However, we live in a diverse country, and religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, may not be used to justify discrimination in the public spheres of commerce and governance. Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion are not new. Religious beliefs have been invoked to justify denying women the right to vote; to prohibit men and women of different races from getting married; and to support segregation in schools, businesses, and other public places.

Just as courts have held that those forms of discrimination are not permitted, even on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs, so is discrimination based on sexual orientation unlawful.
ADF wants you to know four things. The fourth might be the most interesting:

#1: Barronelle Stutzman knew Rob Ingersoll for nearly ten years.

It's irrelevant. She did not serve him as required by law.

#2: Barronelle Stutzman was targeted by the attorneys general of her state.

If taking action to prevent others from thinking that there is discretion in whom a public accommodation will serve then, yes, she was "targeted." So what?

#3: Barronelle Stutzman is being sued professionally and personally.

ADF knows that suing both is proforma when an issue involves a small business. Poor her.

#4: Barronelle Stutzman heard about Alliance Defending Freedom through friends.

It's an interesting point to make. Why even mention it? I'm not so sure of the sequence of events. As Washington was becoming an equality state ADF was trolling for possible victims. It is quite possible that word went out from the pulpit that business owners  should look for opportunities to test the law and that ADF stood ready to defend them. There is more benefit to ADF from portraying this woman as a victim. It makes the cash registers kah-ching. They really have no compelling legal defense.

The handwriting is on the wall. If they want to challenge this all the way up to the Supreme Court, they will face the same fate as Elane Photography in New Mexico. SCOTUS will decline to hear the case because it is settled law. It is Justice Scalia who wrote the opinion in Employment Division v. Smith. It was Scalia who scoffed at the very idea. He wrote that religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws make those laws entirely unenforceable.

Ms. Stutzman is certainly no hero. She made a conscious decision to discriminate and I strongly suspect that she was deliberately testing a law that she knew existed. Ms. Stutzman is not being sued for "standing for her faith." She is being sued for capriciously violating a law. She chose to operate a public accommodation and received a business license to do so. Ultimately Ms. Stutzman wants special rights.
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