Her name is Baronelle Stutzman who was 70 at the time that these events took place. She is a florist in Washington State who refused to do the floral arrangements for a same sex couple who was about to marry. For just a moment try and put whatever reaction you have to that information, whether it be outrage that she would discriminate or pride that she stood up for her beliefs aside, and consider what occurred in the actual case.
Robert Ingersoll was the man who was to marry and had been a customer for nearly a decade. In the court documents, he affirmed that the florist held “held no animus toward homosexuals”. Miss Stutzman recommended other florists that would be able to help whose quality she believed on par with, or better than, hers. As the case gained national attention, the two men even got offers of free flowers for their wedding. At the end of all of this, the two things that they were looking for, their wedding, and the flowers desired for it, were provided, and all was well. I am not trying to minimize any hurt feelings they may have had, simply pointing out that the desired end result occurred.
There were numerous lawsuits filed, including by the state attorney general which not only would normally cost thousands of dollars to defend against, but would also cause her to either decide to continue on as a florist and provide flowers to all, or to pay her fine and shut down. In fairness, the state did send letters to her asking her to comply with state law that guarantees no one is discriminated against because o sexual orientation. Miss Stutzman refused based upon her freedom to practice and live out her faith. A summary ruling went against her. It will allow the gentlemen in question (represented by the ACLU) and the state could collect fees and damages not only from her business, but from her personally. She could end up losing home, savings, her livelihood etc.
Here is the problem…the two gentlemen who were married have suffered no damage. Their right to marry and to have flowers at the wedding were not infringed upon. The one ordering the flowers admitted that Miss Stutzman had not shown any animus toward him or to homosexuals in general. To her credit, and to the best of my knowledge Miss Stutzman has not said anything disparaging about the individuals, but has simply maintained that this is a sincere faith for her and she will not violate it. (Her legal team has had some harsh words for the judge and the state, but I suspect that is fairly normal in cases such as this) That should be commended. Faced with the potential of incredible loss, she is willing to stand for her belief. A belief that I might point out, has not actually done any lasting harm. She managed to not show any negative feelings, she recommended others that could perform the requested service, she did it the right way. She said, in essence, I can not do this because of what I believe, but here are others who perform quality work that can. No damage was done here. No rights were violated. The two men are, to the best of my knowledge, still happily married…well almost no harm. A 70 year old grandmother who runs a small florist shop was harmed. She was harmed for politely and civilly standing by a sincere belief. She was harmed for trying to help others find the service that she could not provide. She was harmed because she followed her beliefs and managed to do so in a way that even the one who was “harmed” said she had shown no animus toward him personally or toward homosexuals in general.
So to us. In the hot button questions of homosexuality, abortion, gun control, Rob Bell, etc. how many of us can say that we have not shown animus to someone? How many of us can say that we have treated those whom we disagree with dignity and respect so that even in our disagreement those whom we disagreed with could not point to an incident that we showed them anything but dignity and respect? For that matter, how many of us have spoken about the SBC in a way that we showed no animus? For all of the jokes about their faith, their backward thinking, etc. they did produce a 70 year old grandmother who did it right (yes, she is a southern baptist in Washington State, who knew that could happen?) and showed us the way to do it as well…and is getting punished for it. How many of us would be willing to lose business and home and livelihood for what we believed? Even more so how many of us would be able to do it in such away that even the party who was (apparently) aggrieved would not be able to make an accusation against us regarding our treatment of them?