Thursday, October 11, 2018

Oh crap, it's Barronelle time again

Barronelle Stutzman
Image via The Tennessee Star
Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT hate group, is raising money off of ADF's and Barronelle Stutzman's notion of Christian Supremacy: One set of laws for Christians and another for everyone else.

In 2013 Barronelle Stutzman decided that she would not sell flowers intended for display at a gay wedding “because of [her] relationship with Jesus Christ.” Actually, I think that Jesus would have been happy to sell the damned flowers. Stutzman's defiance of Washington's nondiscrimination law began a legal adventure that continues to this day and is likely to continue for a few more years.

I'll wait while you pour yourself another cup of coffee before I go through this saga. … … … Ready? Okay:

Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, the gay couple, and Washington State sued Stutzman's shop: Arlene's Flowers and Gifts. Stutzman was originally represented by a local attorney and the ACLU proposed a settlement: A $5,000 donation to an LGBT youth organization and a promise not to discriminate in the future. Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in and harshly declined the settlement offer. She would never agree not to discriminate!

The Christian calculus is simple. Can the matter bring in more in donations than ADF will expend?

The State of Washington sued seeking a $2,000 fine and an agreement not to discriminate in the future. ADF said no way. Both suits could have been settled for a very nominal sum, well below the combined $7,000, as long as Stutzman agreed not to discriminate in the future. ADF was in control and they said no. If Stutzman had an independent brain in her head she would have put this matter behind her and run her business free of the distraction, not to mention the bad publicity.

My theory is that Stutzman wanted exactly what she got. At the outset she knew that she was creating a noisy controversy. It was by design. In 2012, when same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, she prepared for the day that a gay couple asked for flowers. It was her chance to be a Christian hero and to garner some attention.

Stutzman proceeded to sue the state claiming financial hardships due to what she (and ADF) claimed was improper enforcement of Washington's nondiscrimination law. Meanwhile ADF was sending out emails, sometimes two per day, about the poor nice grandmother who was being driven to financial ruin by state ogres and dastardly homosexuals. The solution was to send ADF some dough. ADF has not forgotten how to raise money off of Stutzman.

Meanwhile, Stutzman raised about $175 thousand through GoFundMe which is probably more than her store could gross in two years. It is unknown whether any of that money made its way to ADF. GoFundMe whacked the campaign for a terms of service violation.

In February, 2015 a state judge ruled that Stutzman had violated the law and fined her $1,000. ADF was still claiming that Stutzman was being driven to financial ruin and that she could lose her business and her house. Somehow they got a pass from Jesus for spreading all of this BS.

ADF refused to pay the fine and appealed the case. ADF was schlepping Stutzman to different venues around the country. After all, what is more useful than a persecuted Christian at the hands of cruel gay people? Stutzman loved every moment of her contrived heroism and faux martyrdom.

In February, 2017 — in a unanimous ruling — the state Supreme Court concurred with the lower court. Stutzman had violated the law; that her refusal to sell the flowers was not protected speech and that her religious freedom had not been violated.

In July, 2017 ADF petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case. Mazel tov.

Nearly a year later, in early June of 2018, the Supreme Court upheld an appeal in a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court held that the state demonstrated open hostility to religion and ruled in favor of the baker. It is important to note that the Court did not invalidate Colorado's nondiscrimination law. To the contrary, in his opinion for the majority Justice Kennedy affirmed the right of gays to receive equal treatment in public accommodations in accordance with local law.

On June 25, 2018, the Court, in the Arlene's Flowers and Gifts matter, ruled:
Petition GRANTED. Judgment VACATED and case REMANDED for further consideration in light of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm'n, 584 U. S. ____ (2018).
So now we are back to the Washington Supreme Court. Their task is to determine whether the state demonstrated impermissible hostility to religion. Briefs are due in mid November. Stutzman is probably going to lose again and then ADF will petition the Supreme Court of the United States, again.

Just looking at the timing, my guess is that, in 2020, the Court (including Kavanaugh, unless he gets run over by a truck or overdoses on beer) will decide whether or not to hear this case again. In a couple of years we could have another decision.

And that brings me to today's lovely email from ADF. Selected passages:
If you remember, less than four months ago, the United States Supreme Court wiped out the Washington Supreme Court’s judgment against Barronelle. The high court asked the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling against Barronelle in light of the victory for Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips.

Now the fight to defend Barronelle’s freedom at the Washington Supreme Court is about to begin again. This is a critical time!
[…]
She [Stutzman] has done what Jesus expects us to do—stand for justice in the face of injustice.
Jesus, I think, would be rather peeved by ADF. Was it not Jesus who said “Render unto Caesar …?” ADF has transformed justice to the right of Christians to discriminate against people they disapprove of, all neatly cloaked in scripture of course. They have no empathy whatsoever for people being denied service because of religious beliefs that most of us do not share.
It is unjust for the Washington Attorney General to target Barronelle for punishment because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage.
[…]
But now Barronelle has a clean slate and a second chance at freedom! It’s time to rally around Barronelle once again and secure a victory for her freedom—and yours.

Because if freedom wins—we all win.

But the financial need is huge as we prepare to go up against the state of Washington and the ACLU – organizations with substantial resources at their disposal. That’s why we are trusting God to raise more than $75,000 by 11:59 p.m. tonight to help combat these attacks on our freedom.
Does this explain why “in God we trust” is on our currency? If they don't raise the 75 gees today does that mean that God disapproves and they should call the whole thing off? “Send in money or this puppy and this kitten must die?” By the way, the Washington AG hasn't targeted this awful woman and it has nothing to do with the AG's opinions regarding marriage. The AG prosecuted this case because it is a clear violation of state law. ADF has a Christian permission slip to be dishonest.

Doesn't it occur to these people that if their god had that kind of power over donations then Washington's nondiscrimination law would be written differently?

Suppose Stutzman decided that she would not serve Jewish weddings because we do not accept Jesus Christ? Would that be okay? The only difference is that anti-Semitism (at least open animus) is less fashionable than homophobia. Slightly.

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