Thursday, August 13, 2015

WA A/G Ferguson Reacts Against Religious Freedom

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The Tri-City Herald reports, "Washington's attorney general has responded to Kennewick and Pasco city councilmen who've proposed resolutions asking him to withdraw his consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman and her Arlene's Flowers."

Ferguson wrote in a letter, "That won't happen."

City Councils in both cities plan to revisit the issue.

Barronelle plans to take the issue to the State Supreme Court.


The Tri-City Herald quotes Ferguson as saying, "It is my duty to enforce the laws of our state."

But the content of Ferguson's letter misrepresents the facts. It appears he is enforcing an ideology more than enforcing the laws.

He claims Stutzman is refusing to serve the 2 gay guys because they are gay. That's not true.

Stutzman has never refused to serve anyone "because they are gay." In fact, for years she sold flowers to the two guys now suing her. It was when they requested she provide flowers, etc. for their "wedding" that Barronnell declined.

As a biblical Christian, she believes in natural, biblical marriage---one man, one woman. She cannot celebrate so-called same-sex "marriage."

Ferguson represents that "Washington State law says that if a business chooses to provide a service to heterosexual customers, it must provide that service to gay and lesbian customers."

It does not. It says you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religions, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, etc. He is not only misquoting the law, he is misrepresenting its intent.

There are repeated misrepresentations by the attorney general.

The tone and intent of Ferguson's letter is revealing.

The position the attorney general is taking, and the tone in which he is using, strongly suggests the state is advocating a state religion with defined morals and mores---values and principles.

If personal beliefs are conformed to the wishes of the state, an individual is free to do business in the state. However, if an individuals religious beliefs do not conform to those religious beliefs of the state, they are not free to do business in the state.

William Bradford was fleeing that very ideology when, while sailing to the New World, he wrote the sermon that characterized America as a "shining city on a hill."

The Declaration of Independence was written to a king who agreed with the content, tone and intent of A/G Ferguson's letter to the city councilmen in Kennewick and Pasco.

This is the text of Ferguson's letter.

August 11, 2015 
The Honorable John Trumbo
Kennewick City Council
210 W. 6th Avenue
Kennewick, WA 99336 
The Honorable Bob Hoffmann
Pasco City Council
525 N. 3rd Avenue
Pasco, WA 99301 
Sent By Electronic Mail 
Dear Councilmembers Trumbo and Hoffmann: 
I recently reviewed your proposed Kennewick and Pasco City Council resolutions requesting that I withdraw the State's successful consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers for discriminating against a same-sex couple. 
That won't happen. A Washington business may not refuse service to customers on the basis of their sexual orientation. As Attorney General, it is my duty to enforce the laws of our state. 
My office offered several times not to commence legal action, or to quickly end the lawsuit, if Ms. Stutzman would simply agree to stop breaking state non-discrimination law. After we prevailed in the trial court, my office sought only a $2000 fine and $1 for costs and fees. But Ms.Stutzman refuses to end this case. Instead, she and her attorneys are trying to convince the courts to excuse her behavior through a new legal theory, never before approved by any court in the United States. They claim that Arlene's Flowers should be allowed to serve those customers whom Ms. Stutzman's religion approves of, and exclude those whom it does not. Ms. Stutzman's theory is not the law, and it should not be the law. 
As the United States Supreme Court has long recognized, religious freedom is not the freedom to discriminate against others in the name of religion. Rather, it is the right to freedom of worship, and to be free from discrimination because of our religion. All of us should be able to eat in a restaurant, rent an apartment, or buy flowers regardless of how, or whether, we choose to worship. If I go to a restaurant with my young twins to celebrate their First Communion, I should not have to worry about whether the restaurant will refuse to serve me because we are Catholic. 
Our state law not only protects our right to be served regardless of our religion, but also our race, our gender, whether we have a disability, our status as a veteran, or whether we are gay or lesbian. Arlene's Flowers refused to serve Mr. Freed and Mr. Ingersoll because they are gay. As Attorney General, I will not stand by and allow that to happen. 
Let me be clear: No one is forcing Arlene's Flowers or any other business to provide services to same-sex weddings. Rather, Washington state law says that if a business chooses to provide a service to heterosexual customers it must also provide that service to gay and lesbian customers. In fact, Arlene's Flowers has chosen during this litigation to no longer provide flowers for any weddings - a service that previously constituted about three percent of its business. If Arlene's adopted that policy permanently, it would be under no legal obligation to provide flowers for same-sex wedding ceremonies. 
A business may have policies like "no shoes, no shirt, no service," because that policy applies to all customers equally regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected classification. But no court, anywhere, has ruled that religious belief allows a business owner to violate an anti-discrimination law. 
I encourage you and your colleagues to draft a new resolution - one that affirms the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to live in a community in which businesses do not refuse them service based on their sexual orientation. Such discrimination is illegal - and wrong. 
Sincerely,
BOB FERGUSON
Attorney General 
RWF/rgp 
cc: The Honorable Steve Young, Mayor of Kennewick
The Honorable Matt Watkins, Mayor of Pasco
Kennewick City Council Members
Pasco City Council Members
Lisa Beaton, Kennewick City Attorney

If you disagree with the attroney general, call his office and respectfully let him know. His office in Olympia is 360-753-6000.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Pro-Active.


24 comments:

  1. Clearly religious persecution under the disguise of law, apparently a personal agenda.

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  2. The letter seems less of a response to the councilmen and more of an open letter of affirmation to homosexual proponents. I understand that he is an elected official, and that he counts on the votes from a very liberal section of Washington State's population, but this seems less about justice and more about agenda.

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  3. I'm by no means a Harvard law professor. I'm just a blue collar worker, but it seems to me that some Supreme Court Justices are going to need to decide between some old established constitutional rights and something that just came of late.

    They may be asked to put both of them in an honest balance and see what happens.

    I was thinking about the Mayflower. Did those people come over here more for homosexual marriage licenses, or for the free practice of religion?

    As far as constitutional rights go, how often is it that one constitutionally protected one is in opposition to another one? Is our constitution a contradiction? Was it written for the purpose of contradiction, for self destruction, or confusion? And why does confusion enter in these days? What's the root cause?

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  4. This really is not about being homosexual. It's about one's purpose intended to do with a product for sale, and the making it known, as well as asking a company to put their name and reputation, on their product for a certain purpose that isn't often or even mostly socially accepted as good practice, and also goes contrary to what is often referred to as "The Good Book."

    At any rate, this case has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It's about using a company's name and reputation for things the company doesn't like, and for good religious reasons.

    People in this state are not to be slaves of the state such that the state can dictate to them what sort of activities they must do when they are by nature offensive and immoral, according to The Good Book.

    Why must a business enter into that sort of agreement against their will? The state has no legitimate grounds on that sort of thing. I should hope to live in a legitimate state rather than an oppressive and illegitimate one. I think for the benefit of all, we all should, and do what we can to help it stay legit.

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  5. After reading Ferguson's letter what comes to mind is what about a person who legally may purchase a hand gun, but then reveals a harmful attempt to which he invites the seller of the gun to join in on, by using their name and reputation. What then? And what if the purchaser was homosexual, would that make it a requirement for the seller to sell?

    Or if people don't like that one, what about a man who wants his brakes fixed on his car because he says his wife always mentioned that she trusts the reputation of this repair shop, and then he talks about how he really wishes the brakes would fail and how he often thinks about cutting partway through the lines.?

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  6. One important point to think about here is the fact that whether or not some action taken with a product purchased or intended to purchase, as to whether or not it really is harmful to someone, or everyone, isn't so important as to whether or not the seller of the service or product believes it to be harmful.

    And what about if by doing the service, one would be considered unclean, or a sinner by participation in the doing of that service, according to their conscience or religion?

    Would the law really be doing justice by requiring a Jew, or a Muslim (I've heard that both are often not allowed to even touch or taste pork by conscience or religion) caterers to prepare and deliver products made with pork? But if it was requested by a homosexual, would that then, make it OK?

    Why as many have explained already, do homosexual rights have to throw everyone else's constitutional rights under the bus? We're talking here about special "rights" are we not?

    It seems to me that we have some in government who's intent seems to be to corrupt.

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  7. I get a phone message that says that 360-753-6000 is disconnected.

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  8. I'm thinking that Christian flower shops should put up signs saying, "NO homosexual so called wedding services regardless of race, creed, color, or religion...and oh yeah, sexual orientation too. This goes for everyone the same, regardless of other things too, even so called protected classifications by the state or whatever."

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  9. I had to laugh at the letter where it says, "Let me be clear." Is it clear? So was the homosexual asking for flowers for a legitimate wedding, one where one man and one woman are being united in holy matrimony? I don't think so.

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  10. The Washington Constitution guarantees "absolute freedom of conscience." Our beloved AG is specifically ignoring the state constitution to support his twisted ideology.

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    1. Phil its more your side is ignoring the line right after that in the constitution to try and make it fit with your ideology.

      Lets read it together:

      "but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness"

      And what are 'acts of licentiousness'? Black's Law Dictionary makes that clear:

      "The indulgence of the arbitrary will of the individual, without regard to ethics or law, or respect for the rights of others. In this it differs from "liberty;"

      And it is a civil right legally recognized by both legislative and popular vote of all citizens to have full access to any services by a business making public offers regardless of their creed (even one that believes people can marry regardless of their sexes), their sex (even if someone thinks one of the couple marrying is the 'wrong' sex), or sexual orientation (that there are people naturally attracted to men and women of both sexes).

      And that is why this 'sending it to the state Supreme Court' meme is laughable and pointless. The state constitution specifically says that exercising religious conscience doesn't mean people can act without regard for other people's rights, in this case the customer's civil rights. The court will have no choice to rule with the AG, because this situation is spelled out right there in Article I, Section 11.

      Either then business sells wedding services to the public or it doesn't. (currently it doesn't). But if it does it can't apply a religious test the customer must pass to buy the advertised product or service.

      Lets hope the Supreme Court maintains the generously low fine the AG has offered 2 times now.

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  11. Where has Arlene's Flowers catered to heterosexual customers asking for flowers for a homosexual "wedding"? I doubt that they would. It seems to me that they treat everyone the same no matter what their sexual orientation.

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  12. The state may pass a law that makes homosexual "weddings" OK to them, but that doesn't make it OK in the consciences of oh so many! I believe the idea of the state overstepping it's authority and intruding into things it should not be doing is an idea we all can apprehend. Clearly they are trying to dictate morality and conscience by force of law with clear disregard as to the health and welfare of others.

    Sue a flower shop for all they are worth for a bunch of flowers? Really now. And on what grounds? Grounds that they claim they can do whatsoever they please to the religious consciences of anyone in their jurisdiction, and they have not sinned in this? Really now? Haven't violated a state constitution is that it? Maybe I should learn what it says. I've heard they have one.

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  13. The homosexual agenda is bad for the state. It is responsible for many people falling into all sorts of sin and errors, just as we see here, and yes people get hurt by it. Flower shops are only one example. State A/G's get injured by it also, if they let it happen to them. It should be repealed or whatever.

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  14. May God bless these city councilmembers. They did a good thing. May God reward them. May we all do what we can.

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  15. So it appears that traditional marriages will not be getting their flowers from Arlene's Flowers because of state Bullying. Where is the state Governor on all this? Shouldn't he step in and talk to the A/G and tell him he is wrong, and if he doesn't hear him, take one or two others with him, and if he will not hear them, then tell it to the public? Can he fire him if necessary? Didn't somebody there take an oath or something?

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    1. Of course the AG took an oath to uphold the law and protect the citizens of Washington from illegal acts like Stutzman did. Arlene's Flowers LLC had employees that would have gladly filled this order from counter to clean up, one in fact quit because they were ordered to treat customers illegally by Stutzman (which is what activated the consumer protection acts clause that eliminates the financial protections of using an LLC - if the only reason the business is operating illegally is because of instructions by the owner they have just then exposed their assets to any subsequent judgement.)

      Again, it is illegal for a business making offers to the public to violate the civil rights of customers and the state constitution specifically says that the excuse of 'religious conscience' can't be used to act without regard for the rights of others.

      Eventually the owner will have to pay the fine and follow the law as they are now, but not offering wedding services to anyone, or offering them as the law requires.

      There is no right to religious discrimination in the public arena, each citizens own right to religious freedom shields them from it. If a person doesn't want to sell something to some people because of their religious views then don't offer it to the public, sell it as a private club or a non-profit, that's why these ways to discriminate exist.

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  16. I think Bob Ferguson should come up with a new resolution, one that supports the state constitution and protects religious freedom.

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  17. What Bob Ferguson is doing is illegal.

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  18. I just submitted a comment saying that what Bob Ferguson is doing is illegal. Yet I remember what someone told me once and it might be true, and that is that one can sue anyone for any reason, and it doesn't have to be right.

    I wonder if it's time for a law that specifically prohibits the state from bullying people because they do not agree with their religious convictions.

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  19. The homosexual agenda is destructive to everything.

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  20. Yes yes, you want to establish a 'right' to religious discrimination by a business in offers to the public, something that has never existed before.

    Once you've opened that Pandora's Box, how will you control it? What will you do when you aren't allowed to book at a bed and breakfast because you might pray at the dinner table? Same thing as this business owner refusing a wedding they didn't like. Or when your son comes back from his job at a foreign-owned hotel and tells you he found that the Muslims are paid more.

    Our state founders knew people like you so they explicitly put in our constitution that the excuse of 'religious conscience' didn't give the right to act without regard for the rights of other citizens. You don't want to be in a same sex marriage, God Bless. But if you sell wedding services to the public then you can't refuse a customer because they don't conform to your idea of religion, they have a constitutional right to their own ideas about religion, and marriage, and weddings.

    May God help us if you succeed in your efforts for it will bring about the end religious freedom in America.

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  21. Sometimes I wonder...Did these people in government go to the same public school system as I did? I wonder when the first time was that they heard about the Mayflower, and what was on it?

    The first time I remember hearing about it, and every time thereafter, it was carrying Pilgrims to a new land for religious freedom, not carrying a bunch of homosexuals for "marriage" licenses.

    Once they open Pandora's Box, how did they think they would control it? What are we supposed to do when people are not allowed to book at a bed and breakfast because they might pray at the dinner table? It's about the same thing as not allowing a Christian business owner saying that in order for them to have a clear conscience before God and fellow man, they can not put two grooms on a cake, or provide flowers for a homosexual "wedding" when asked to do so.

    Who is the state to say that we can not have a conscience free from the stain of guilt and sin because they have intended to impose sinful actions upon us by the force of law, in order to please themselves and / or others?

    And when the Supreme Court is contrary to God, and we are forced to choose, is it wrong to choose God instead? I prefer to say that God is right and that the Supreme Court is wrong on the matter of marriage.

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    1. Awfully high horse there considering the actual situation - they have something they know they aren't going to all the public and yet they are paradoxically offering to the public!

      Only want to sell something to just a subset of the public find the right people FIRST and make just them the offer of sale.

      No one forced the business to make a fraudulent offer to the public, they freely chose to do that.

      Theirs is the need to religiously discriminate, it's up to them to do so in one of the several legal ways to do it. That this business owner was too ignorant, lazy, or greedy to do so is the source of their problems, don't blame the customers they defrauded.

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