A multi-year legal battle between a Christian florist and a gay customer she refused to provide wedding flowers to finally came to an end after the two sides reached an agreement.
Barronelle Stutzman, of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, was sued by Rob Ingersoll when she refused to make a flower arrangement for her same-sex marriage in 2013 because of her religious beliefs.
She was ordered by the courts to pay a fine of $ 1,000 and legal fees for Ingersoll, an order that was upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court in 2017 on the grounds that she had violated anti-anti laws. -discrimination.
In 2019, the Washington Supreme Court convicted Stutzman a second time on the grounds that his refusal to provide the flowers “constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Then, in July of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, meaning Washington’s ruling stands and Stutzman faces the prospect of having to pay crippling legal fees and to the possibility of bankruptcy.
As part of the settlement announced this week, Stutzman agreed to pay Ingersoll and her husband $ 5,000, while the Defending Freedom Alliance, which represented Stutzman, in return agreed to withdraw a petition to the Supreme Court.
After the settlement, Stutzman plans to retire and hand over the reins of his business to his employers.
In a letter to supporters, the 77-year-old said she was at peace with her decision.
“The confrontations took me on a long, winding nine-year journey through the justice system, even though it was a journey where Jesus Christ accompanied me every step of the way,” she said. .
“Today this journey ends and I am at peace. I wish that the culmination of all that I have experienced can be translated into a new respect, culturally and legally, for freedom of conscience in our country.
“From the start, I have asked for nothing more than the freedom to act in accordance with my religious beliefs and personal convictions.
“I have treated those who persecuted me with respect and with the assurance that I want the same freedom for them that I ask for myself.”
She added, “I never had to compromise my conscience or go against my faith.”
ADF General Counsel Kristen Wagoner said the settlement was not an “abandonment of Barronelle’s beliefs.”
“For the past eight years, Barronelle has championed the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans, even those who disagree with her on a deeply personal and important issue like marriage,” Wagoner said, according to The Christian Post.
“And in doing so, she inspired millions more in their own public and personal battles to live out their faith without government interference.”