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Christian Florist Who Refused Gay-Wedding Rejects State's Settlement Deal, Defends Her Rights to Religious Freedom

( [email protected] ) Feb 24, 2015 08:25 PM EST

 

Washington Christian Florist
Photo: Youtube/Alliance Defending Freedom

Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman defended her decision on refusing to provide flowers for a gay couple's wedding, citing religious beliefs and her Christian faith.

 

In a Monday interview that aired on the Fox News Channel show "The Kelly File," host Shannon Bream asked her why she refused to provide flowers to a gay couple's wedding. Her actions caused the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit on their behalf, and the State of Washington attorney general filed a consumer protection lawsuit against her.

"It was very difficult for me to tell Rob that I couldn't do his wedding," Stutzman said, noting that he was a longtime customer. "Because of my relationship with Jesus Christ teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman, I couldn't do his flowers and create something that was special for him because it would dishonor Christ."

Stutzman added that she gave him three different recommendations of other florists in the area and ended on friendly terms. According to Ian Horswill of News Corp. Australia Network, the gay couple was identified as Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.

"He asked me if I had any other florist that I could recommend, and I did recommend three because I knew they'd do a good job for him," Stutzman said. "I knew he wanted something special. And we hugged each other and he left."

Kristen Waggoner, an attorney representing the Christian florist, explained to Bream how the government went after her client after that transaction.

"The attorney general contacted the couple. They didn't file the initial complaint," Waggoner said. "The attorney general took it on after reading reports in the media, and the attorney general has relentlessly pursued Barronelle ever since."

Bream told Stutzman that she was offered a deal by the state that required her to pay a fine and barred her from refusing specific weddings. Horswill reported that 70-year-old Stutzman, who turned down the state's deal, faced a $2,000 penalty for violating the Consumer Protection Act and a $1 payment for costs and fees.

"It's not about the money. It's about freedom," Stutzman, a Southern Baptist Christian, said. "It's about my eight kids and our 23 grandchildren and the future and now. There's not a price on freedom. You can't buy my freedom."

Stutzman added that although the state was "talking about bullying me into doing something that is against my faith," she quipped that while they can get rid of her, "they can't get rid of God."

Bream asked Stutzman if a viable solution can be found without the use of lawsuits.

"That would be my hope, yes," Stutzman said.

Stutzman's attorney told Bream that they plan to appeal, given that "there's a lot at stake here."

"We will appeal," Waggoner said. "It's not just the right of -- under the First Amendment for her free exercise of religion, but free expression, she's an artist."

According to Horswill, Stutzman harbored no ill feelings toward the gay couple behind the lawsuit.

"I truly want the best for my friend," Stutzman wrote. "I've also employed and served many members of the LGBT community and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case."

In rejecting the state's deal, Stutzman noted that she never thought the government would come after her for exercising religious beliefs in her business practices.

"I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal," Stutzman wrote.

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