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A 70 year old Washington florist sued fir refusing to service a homosexual wedding has rejected the settlement offer of the states Attorney General.

In 2013, citing her religious objection to homosexual marriage, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to service the gay wedding of a long-time customer. That customers subsequently filed a complaint, which led to Stuzman’s fine.

Barronelle Stutzman, the 70-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers, said she has turned down the settlement agreement offered by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which requires her to pay $2,001 and agree to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies by creating floral arrangements and providing other services.

“Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about,” Ms. Stutzman said in a letter to Mr. Ferguson. “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.”

Mr. Ferguson’s offer came after a Benton County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday against Ms. Stutzman, saying she had violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by declining service for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2013.

Read more here.

Interestingly enough, it is not the fine that threatens to put Stutzman out of business, but her attorneys fees.

As I wrote previously, I do not believe that this is a case of religious freedom, but one of private property rights.  I ask again, upon what moral ground does the state require that one citizen sell his property to another citizen? And if the government can require that one citizen sell to another citizen, can’t that same government then require that one citizen purchase from another citizen? Further, if the government can demand the exchange of private property, what prevents the government from setting the price of that exchange? Thus far, the only answer that anyone has come up with is that discrimination is against the law.

Actually, only discrimination based on factors like race, religion, and sexual preference, is illegal.  Other forms of discrimination are not only legal, but are practiced as a part of our everyday lives.  But none of that answers the question:  Upon what moral ground does the state reserve such power?

The great irony is that the primary duty of the government is to protect the private property of its citizens!  We have twisted things to much that we now demand government dictate to citizens that thy must engage in commerce, which is the exchange of private property.

What does each of us own?  As an actor, should I be required to provide acting services to anyone?  Shouldn’t I have the right to decide who I will work for and who I will not?  As a writer, can someone demand that I write for them?Why is Stutzman any different?

As a Black man, growing up during the 1960’s, I am particularly sensitive to the implications of what happens when citizens are allowed to discriminate based on race.  In my life, I have experienced the sting of being passed over for service, of being ignored when asking for assistance, of being charged a different price than a white customer, and being treated differently simply because of the color of my skin.  Discrimination such as this stings!  It’s ugly and I believe that we as a society are right to discourage it.  Perhaps, the best way is to allow the force of the marketplace to force the social change we desire.  In my case, I was able to exercise my option to spend my dollars with a merchant who only cared about my ability to pay.

Some have argued that the only reason I enjoyed such and option is because the state stepped in and struck down Jim Crow laws, thus requiring that merchants serve all people. Unstated is the fact that it was the state that had initially stepped in and made it illegal for merchants to serve whomever they wished. Jim Crow laws were instituted by the state and were immoral for the exact same reason today’s anti-discrimination laws are immoral:  They were a violation of private property rights!  Not every merchant found it distasteful to serve blacks.  Those who had been doing business with Blacks for years, were suddenly prohibited by law from engaging in the free exchange of their private property. I will ask again: As a matter of principle, how does this decision in Washington differ?



About Author

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1994), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.

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