As Americans, we believe in a free market: except when we don’t.
In Richland Washington, a florist named Baronelle Stutzman, who for years has done wedding arrangements, never imagined there’d be any such thing as gay marriage. Or that two of regular male customers would one day ask her to provide flowers not for Mother’s Day, or a birthday, but for their wedding. Which is when she told them I’m fine with gay people, but as a Christian I cannot participate in a gay wedding.
And now she could become one of the first test cases pitting religious freedom against the free market:
“She’s violating our consumer protection laws,” said Bob Ferguson, the Attorney General of Washington State.
He says he didn’t want to go to court. His office even sent her a polite letter.
“Asking her to simply agree to no longer withhold selling flowers to gay couples who wish to get married,” said Ferguson.
But she hired a lawyer instead. And she’ll need one – because not only is the AG suing- so are the two gay grooms, with the backing of the ACLU.
It all raises many questions.
Should a car dealer be free to turn away someone he thinks is unfit to drive? Should a liquor store refuse to sell to a known drunk? Should fast food joints turn fat people away? Should gun dealers turn away people who give off a bad vibe? Does the free market mean merchants are free to judge you?
But for the attorney general, THIS case is pretty simple:
“Bottom line is this, if you have a business, you serve flowers, you serve to the public. You can’t discriminate based on a small set of criteria, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation. Once that’s on the books our job is to apply that law,” he said.