The Christian florist who was sued and found guilty of violating a Washington state discrimination law after refusing service to a gay couple has rejected a settlement offer and revealed plans to appeal her case, TheBlaze reports.
Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom decided on Feb. 18 that Barronelle Stutzman, 70, violated Washington’s Law Against Discrimination and Consumer Protection Act when she declined service for Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed’s wedding.
The state had offered a settlement in which Stutzman would have to pay a $2,000 fine and $1 in legal fees. She would also have to commit to provide flowers for gay weddings if she provided wedding flowers for other weddings, the Daily Mail reports.
But the Christian florist has declined that offer in a letter she penned to Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The letter states:
Dear Mr. Ferguson,
Thank you for reaching out and making an offer to settle your case against me. As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years. I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal. Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs. 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. 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. That is something I will not do.
I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims though the appeal process. Thanks again for writing and I hope you will consider my offer.
Stutzman’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner, who is the senior counsel of conservative legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, expressed support for her client.
“In what world is $2,001 a good deal for surrendering your freedom?” Waggoner said.
Wagonner went on to criticize the settlement offer and the government.
“Attorney General (Bob Ferguson) has relentlessly pursued her personal and professional ruin because she will not celebrate same-sex marriage,” Wagonner said. “His settlement proposal offered nothing new. The attorney general continues to pursue her business and personal assets unless she agrees to stop designing wedding arrangements and providing wedding support for all weddings.
“The government's message is the same: As an artist, you must use your heart, mind, and hands to promote same-sex marriage or you will lose everything,” Wagonner added.