Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution’

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With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.


Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.

But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.

An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.

“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed, and filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers. The ACLU also sued on behalf of the customer, Robert Ingersoll, who has said Stutzman’s refusal “really hurt, because it was someone I knew.”

Among conservative Christians, Stutzman has become a byword – part cautionary tale and part cause celebre.

Written By: Daniel Burke
continue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com

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  1. It’s quite simple. It’s about the provision of goods and services.
    Barronelle Stutzman wasn’t being asked to officiate or even turn up for the wedding.
    Her personal endorsement was neither requested or required. Florists are governed by secular business laws.
    Is there anything in the Bible which says “Thou shalt not provide floral arrangements for the weddings of infidels” or did she just make up that rule on the hoof?
    Would she accept it if a gay florist refused to create floral arrangements for her wedding on the grounds of her faith?
    Her refusal to provide secular goods and services to a gay customer amounts to a Jim Crow policy, one which no other minority in this day and age would be permitted to get away with.

  2. Christianity, which is basically a business model at this point, needs to benefit from process re-engineering if they’re going to continue to make money in the future. Times, they indeed are a’changin….

    Having said that, I don’t think this woman should be sued. Boycott her business if you don’t like it, but it is HER business and she should be allowed to serve or not serve as she wishes. Enough people boycott her and she stops making money, she’ll adapt or close.

    • That’s the whole point about anti-discrimination laws though, if she’s providing a service, she doesn’t get to choose who she serves. Otherwise you would be back to the days of folks refusing to serve blacks/coloured etc. Whatever your reasons, if you’re running a business, you don’t get to cherry pick which laws you’ll obey and which laws you’ll ignore, not even with religion as your excuse.

      In reply to #2 by MAJORPAIN:

      Christianity, which is basically a business model at this point, needs to benefit from process re-engineering if they’re going to continue to make money in the future. Times, they indeed are a’changin….

      Having said that, I don’t think this woman should be sued. Boycott her business if you don’t l…

    • In reply to #2 by MAJORPAIN:

      Christianity, which is basically a business model at this point, needs to benefit from process re-engineering if they’re going to continue to make money in the future. Times, they indeed are a’changin….

      Having said that, I don’t think this woman should be sued. Boycott her business if you don’t l…

      So we just boycott criminals in future? If it is illegal to discriminate when offering a service she should suffer the consequences. Do we just allow people to refuse to serve black people? Do we say just boycott them?

    • In reply to #2 by MAJORPAIN:

      Having said that, I don’t think this woman should be sued. Boycott her business if you don’t like it, but it is HER business and she should be allowed to serve or not serve as she wishes.

      I agree that cake shops are not the most important thing in the world, and the actual harm done in this case is fairly small. However there’s still a matter of principle. Maybe Stutzman’s cakes are widely acknowledged to be the best in the county? If so, why should a gay couple have to contend with second best purely because of their inate sexuality?

      But what if it weren’t a cake shop? What if it were a more essential service provider, such as a doctor or a grocery store. Should they be allowed to decline service based on a potential customer’s sexuality? What if all the groceries in the town do so? Or in the county? What if a gay person were forced to make a hundred mile round trip to buy their weekly groceries when a straight person could just walk across the road?

      Of course, it’s fairly unlikely that all the stores in a town would decline to serve a gay customer, but in a rural area with few and widely spread out amenities, and with a strong religious influence, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. So should discrimination in the provision of services be legal but only if the service is inessential? If so, define inessential. Should it be legal providing convenient alternatives exist? If so, what happens if they get taken over by homophobic proprietors? Does it turn into a game of musical chairs, with the last party to object having to serve all the gay customers? Pretty clearly these are untenable, and that’s why we don’t and shouldn’t allow anyone to discriminate in the provision of goods or services,

  3. I see a niche market here. Set up a business specialising in providing the floral arrangements for gay marriages. It could work on the principals of Interflora and supply flowers throughout the state.

    • In reply to #5 by Nitya:

      I see a niche market here. Set up a business specialising in providing the floral arrangements for gay marriages.

      Looks good on paper; but would it have to be done on the QT?

      One must be ever vigilant for lunatic fringe christians…

  4. How will a gay couple getting married on the other side of town have any effect whatsoever on a pair of Republican bigots?

    Even if this couple moves in next door, how could the Republican bigots even tell if the couple were married? If anything you would expect the married couple to be better neighbours — few loud parties etc.

  5. If Stutzman takes advantage of business tax laws in her community, she is obliged to service without discrimination. She doesn’t have to personally approve – she doesn’t have to “like” making bouquets for Jewish people, (or is it black people? Oh, it’s GAY people!) she just has to service without discrimination or be denied access to advantageous business tax deductions and business laws in her community/state/country. Suing her is a very good idea. We had a similar situation here with a motel unwilling to accommodate a gay couple, until the owners were threatened with having their business license taken away. The motel owners soon complied. They likely now do a swift business accommodating a whole new clientele. ‘Nuff said.

  6. “Conservative Christians say their churches have been unprepared for cultural shifts on same-sex marriage.” Really? I’m not sure how they’re supposed to ‘prepare’ for something that’s none of their damn business anyways.

  7. Conservative Christians say their churches have been unprepared for cultural shifts on same-sex marriage.

    So what’s new?
    They have historically been “unprepared” for nearly every scientific, cultural, and medical breakthrough, which has ever happened! (Global Earth, heliocentrism, evolution, organ transplants, in-vitro fertilisation, cessation of burning of heretics, neuroscience, contraception, etc)

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