Death threats for opposing gay marriage? Florist appeals to Supreme Court
When Barronelle Stutzman took a stand for her Christian beliefs nearly five years ago, she never imagined that she would eventually be appealing to the US Supreme Court to defend her decision.
New York City, N.Y. (CNA/EWTN News) - But that's exactly what happened.
"This was never on my bucket list," Barronelle told CNA.
The 72-year-old grandmother is the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, and is currently involved in a lawsuit involving a customer of nearly 10 years, Rob Ingersoll.
Barronelle knew Rob was gay from the beginning. "It was never an issue," she said. She enjoyed working with him, and said he would pick out creative vases and containers, and would come in with flower requests for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
"I loved doing arrangements for Rob, because I got to think outside of the box, and do something special for him."
But when Rob came in and told Barronelle that he had gotten engaged to his boyfriend, she took him by the hand and explained that she believed marriage to be a sign of the relationship between Christ and the Church, and so she could not do the floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
Initially, Rob said that he understood and asked if she could recommend another florist, which she did.
Later, however, his partner posted a message on social media about Barronelle declining to take part in the wedding, and it went viral. Soon, she was informed that she was being sued by the Washington State attorney general and the ACLU. Today, more than four years later, Barronelle is waiting to hear whether the US Supreme Court will take her case.
And while the actual damages being sought by the couple are only around $7 -- the mileage cost of driving to another florist -- Barronelle could be responsible for more than $1 million in legal fees to nearly a dozen ACLU lawyers opposing her in the case.
Barronelle, who is Southern Baptist, spoke at a panel discussion in New York City last November, hosted by ADF International, the global branch of the non-profit legal group that is representing her in court.
"Because I have a belief that is marriage is between one man and a woman, we could possibly lose everything we own, everything we've saved for our kids and grandkids," Barronelle said.
She explained that while the decision to decline a same-sex wedding was difficult, it was the only way she could stay true to her beliefs. For her, weddings are much more than simply a job -- they're a deeply personal labor of love, and she pours her heart and soul into her work.
"I spend months -- sometimes years -- with the bride and groom. I get to know them personally, what they want to convey, what the bride wants, what her vision is. There's so much personal involvement in this."
At the wedding, Barronelle will often help greet guests and calm nervous parents. "When we get the bride down the aisle, then I know I've done my job," she said.
With floral arrangements for weddings being such a personal endeavor, she knew that she would be betraying her relationship with Christ if she participated in a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Over the last four-and-a-half years, Barronelle has received an outpouring of support --customers coming in to offer a kind word or a hug, strangers telling her they are praying for her family, and messages of encouragement from 68 countries.
But she's also received death threats. She's had to install a security system and change her route to work.
"Even today, we're very aware of people who come in who might do us harm," she said.
Also hard, she said, has been losing her relationship with Rob. She said she misses him and harbors no anger against him.
"I can tell you that if Rob walked into my store today, I would hug him, catch up on his life, and I would wait on him for another 10 years if he'd let me."
She also has a message for her fellow Americans: stand up for religious freedom, before it's too late.
"Don't think this cannot happen to you," she said. "I never thought that we would have a government that would come in and tell you what to think, what to do, what to say, what to create -- and if you don't do it, you'll be totally destroyed."
"If we don't stand now, there will be nothing to stand for."
An earlier version of this article was originally published on CNA Nov. 3, 2017.
Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2018
Priests and their Pastoral Ministry. That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.
Every Monday morning for the past 30 years, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C. have been making their ... continue reading
Deacon Keith Fournier on Lawrence the Deacon and the Call of Catholic Deacons in a Missionary age Watch
Catholic Deacons are ordained members of the Catholic Clergy, ordained not to the priesthood but to the ministry. We are not laymen any ... continue reading
The Saints put legs on the Gospel. They show us by example how we are to respond to the question, Who Do You Say That I Am? They ... continue reading
We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which ... continue reading
Liturgical Worship is not an add on for a Catholic Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic identity; expressing our highest purpose. ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Church in Australia should not be tax exempt, former government ...
- Gregorian chant workshop teaches teachers how to teach Gregorian chant
- VIRAL: La inundacion de una iglesia no impidio a esta pareja contraer ...
- Stunning Pope Francis Rosary HD Video
- Prayer Requests Live for Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 HD Video
- St. Alipius: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, August 15, 2018
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, August 15, 2018
- St. Augustine
- Saint Anne
- st agnes
- saint monica
- saint catherine
- Saint Lucy
- saint clare
- saint rose
- st rose of lima
- immaculate conception
- st augustine
- st monica
- saint of the day
- St. Elizabeth
- john bosco
- st catherine
- st. cecilia
- st. paul
- feast days
- Saint Cecilia
- Daily Reading for Thursday, August 16th, 2018 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Monday, August 13th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education