Washington grandmother Barronelle Stutzman served her friend and customer, Rob Ingersoll, for over nine years, providing him custom-made flower arrangements for a variety of occasions. Barronelle knew that Rob was gay, but that didn’t matter to her because she serves everyone. However, Barronelle cannot in good conscience create custom arrangements for events that conflict with her religious beliefs. So when Rob asked Barronelle to design the flowers for his same-sex wedding, Barronelle politely referred him to three nearby florists.
The state of Washington found her to be in violation of its nondiscrimination law, potentially subjecting her to fees that would cost Barronelle her business, life savings, and home. In declining the state attorney general’s offer that she accept defeat and give up her right to appeal, she wrote:
Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom.