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Homophobic Washington Florist Barronelle Stutzman Fined for Discriminating Against Gay Customer

Stuzman

Richland, Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman has been fined $1000 plus $1 for court costs and fees for her refusal back in 2013 to provide flowers for a longtime customer's wedding to his same-sex partner because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ."

The Associated Press reports:

In a February ruling, [Benton County Superior Judge Alexander] Ekstrom found that Stutzman's refusal to provide flowers because of sexual orientation violated Washington's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. Along with the fine, the judge's ruling also requires that everything Arlene's Flowers sells to opposite-sex couples has to be available at the same price to same-sex couples.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office requested the fine, said in a statement Friday that the ruling is a reminder of the reach of Washington's anti-discrimination laws.

"My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination," Ferguson said. "I'm pleased that today's ruling clearly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples."

Last month, we reported Stutzman had rejected a settlement offer in the case and said taking the offer would have been like Judas betraying Jesus.


Victory Fund Appoints First Lesbian And First Black Leader: VIDEO

Aisha Moodie-Mills

LGBT activist group The Victory Fund and Institute (VFI) has appointed Aisha Moodie-Mills as its first out female and first black president and CEO, reports Buzzfeed.

Today, we're thrilled to announce that Aisha Moodie-Mills - an accomplished LGBT leader with a passion for civil rights...

Posted by Victory Fund & Institute on Thursday, 26 March 2015

1383576_10153362891555647_1985904950_nFounded in 1991, VFI is a national organizations dedicated to helping LGBT leaders win office and serve effectively at all levels of government.

Moodie-Mills began her LGBT activism in 2009, advocating for the Washington, D.C. Council to pass marriage equality legislation.

At the Center for American Progress, she began the FIRE initiative to talk about and advocate for issues at the intersection of race, class, and sexuality.

At VFI she will oversee a $4 million annual budget, 18 employees, and a mission to support and train out LGBT people to run for office and staff political jobs.

Moodie-Mills says that her focus will be on grassroots work in places where there are no or very few out LGBT elected officials. Specifically, she points to “the South and the plains states” and other areas lacking out LGBT representatives.

She also hopes to focus on training transgender people to run for office and supporting women candidates, referencing the only out senator: “Tammy Baldwin is our beacon of hope, but there just haven’t been a lot of Tammy Baldwins up and down the ballot.”

Watch a clip of Politini, a talk show hosted by Moodie-Mills and her wife Danielle, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Victory Fund Appoints First Lesbian And First Black Leader: VIDEO" »


FOX News Rallies Behind Christian Florist Who Refused to Do Gay Couple's Wedding: VIDEO

Stutzman

For two years we've been reporting on Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who was found to be in violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws for refusing to provide flowers for a longtime gay customer's wedding. Stutzman said doing so would violate "her relationship with Jesus Christ."

Stutzman was offered a generous settlement offer of a $2,000 penalty, a $1 payment for court and legal fees, and an agreement “not to discriminate in the future,” but refused it, preferring to be a martyr for her cause.

Media Matters notes that Stutzman has found a prominent ally in her crusade: FOX News.

On the February 23 edition of The Kelly File, guest host Shannon Bream conducted the first ever television interview with Stutzman, along with an attorney from the extreme anti-gay group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing her. Bream has a history of championing the right to discriminate against gay customers, coming to the defense of business owners who violate non-discrimination laws and suggesting that gay customers should "just go down the street" and find someone who is willing to serve them.

Throughout the interview, Bream helped depict Stutzman as a victim who risked losing her home and livelihood because of the state's non-discrimination law...

...Fox News has used stories like Stutzman's to make the case for draconian "license-to-discriminate" laws that would give business owners broad discretion to refuse service to gay customers on religious grounds. These laws, unsurprisingly, are largely being crafted by ADF, which has been all-too-eager to use Fox News to bring national attention to its pro-discrimination legal work.

Watch FOX News eat up Stutzman's sob story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "FOX News Rallies Behind Christian Florist Who Refused to Do Gay Couple's Wedding: VIDEO" »


Homophobic Washington Florist Rejects $2001 Settlement Offer: 'It's About Freedom, Not Money'

Stuzman

On Thursday, we reported that a Washington state judge had ruled against Barronelle Stuzman, the Richland florist who in 2013 refused to provide flowers for a longtime customer's wedding to his same-sex partner because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ."

Stuzman was found to be in violation of the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Following the ruling, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson provided Stuzman with a settlement offer, but Stuzman refused.

Stuzman, it seems, was always planning on taking the anti-gay martyr route.

“Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law," said Ferguson. "Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties."

The Washington Post reports:

On Friday, Stutzman told Ferguson in a letter released through her attorneys that the state’s settlement offer of a $2,000 penalty, a $1 payment for court and legal fees, and an agreement “not to discriminate in the future,” was akin to Judas’s betrayal of Jesus in the Bible. “You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver,” she wrote, adding, “that is something I will not do.”

“Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about,” she added. “It’s about freedom, not money.” 

Stutzman’s attorney said that she’ll be appealing the ruling.

Read Stuzman's full letter AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Homophobic Washington Florist Rejects $2001 Settlement Offer: 'It's About Freedom, Not Money'" »


Judge Rules Homophobic Washington Florist Broke the Law for Discriminating Against Gay Customer

Stuzman

A judge has ruled against Barronelle Stuzman, the Richland florist who in 2013 refused to provide flowers for a longtime customer's wedding to his same-sex partner because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ," the Associated Press reports:

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments from the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland that her actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion. While religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren't necessarily protected, he said.

"For over 135 years, the Supreme Court has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief," Ekstrom wrote. "The Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief."

Ekstrom ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in two cases against Stuzman - the first being an ACLU case for customer Robert Ingersoll and his husband Curt Freed and a second case from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who claimed Stuzman violated Washington's Consumer Protection Act. 

The Washington Post adds:

The penalty against Stutzman and her business will be settled via summary judgment, or without a full trial. Ingersoll and Freed, who have since married, had sued for $7.91 (the cost of driving to find a new florist). Stutzman also faces a fine of up to $2,000 under Washington’s anti-discrimination law, as well as the cost of legal fees.

Stutzman’s attorney said that she’ll be appealing the order.

“The ruling basically said that if you dare to not celebrate same-sex marriage because it violates your religious convictions, that the government has a right to bring about your personal and professional ruin,” Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Los Angeles Times. “Her home, her business … her life savings and retirement, these are all in jeopardy … all because of her deeply held religious views.”


Judge Rules Homophobic Washington Florist May Be Held Personally Responsible for Discriminating Against Gay Customer

Stuzman

A judge has ruled that the state of Washington has the authority to bring a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stuzman, a Richland florist who is being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a longtime gay customer's 2013 wedding because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ." The judge also ruled Stutzman can be held personally liable for discriminating against the gay customer.

The AP reports:

The judge still has two more motions to rule on in the lawsuit, including whether the facts in the case show the florist violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

The Washington attorney general is asking for a permanent injunction requiring Stutzman and her shop to comply with the consumer protection law.

Stuzman, with the help of the anti-gay Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, is countersuing the state saying that she's the one being discriminated against and that the state Constitution protects her "faith convictions".


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