Rob McCoy:  Gays speak up for “free speech” and “religious freedom”

 

 

By Michael Hernandez

(Editor’s Note:  The American Legacy lecture series will continue for at least one more lecture, this Wednesday, February 14th from 7-8 p.m., at Godspeak Calvary Chapel, 2697 Lavery Ct., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320)

NEWBURY PARK—A Washington Christian florist is being supported by two prominent journalistic/political gays who are speaking up for “free speech” and “religious freedom” said Councilman Rob McCoy at his American Legacy lecture at Godspeak Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks.

The Arlene’s Flowers lawsuit refers to a merged group of lawsuits brought by a gay couple (supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, and by the State of Washington) against a florist’s shop, Arlene’s Flowers of Richland, Washington after shop owner Barronelle Stutzman declined to provide a floral arrangement for the couple’s wedding.

The first civil suit, Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, was filed by a gay couple after Stutzman denied floral arrangements for their wedding. The couple had been customers of Stutzman’s shop for nine years, but when they asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, the florist declined, citing her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”  She provided the gay couple with three leads for other florists to use.

The ACLU represented the couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, in their lawsuit against the small business on grounds of discrimination. ACLU attorneys proposed a settlement in the suit if she publicly apologized, donated $5,000 to a local LGBT youth center and stopped refusing to service people due to sexual orientation.

The Alliance Defending Freedom countered the case stating the small business should not be required to violate deeply held religious beliefs.

“My freedom to honor God is more important” than accepting a court forced apology said Strutzman.   Her attorney, Kristen Waggoner said, “The unmistaken message from (the State of) Washington is that if you dare to decline the government, (it) will bring about your personal and professional ruination.”   Struzman said, “I have eight kids, 23 grandkids, I can’t buy my freedom.   If it is me today, tomorrow it will be you.”  She said, “the State Attorney General is bullying me against my faith.  He can’t do that.  He can get rid of me, but not God.”

Strutzman has received unexpected and unwavering support from Guy Benson, a Fox News contributor and political contributor of Townhall.com who on a PragerU video called himself a “Christian, American, Conservative, and Gay” and from Milo Yannoppoulos, a British former Breitbart News senior editor, who also called himself “Catholic and Gay” and who was shut down from speaking at UC Berkeley last year.  Both believe her “free speech” and “religious freedom” rights have been violated.

The second lawsuit was a consumer protection suit, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in order to uphold Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act. The case would have been settled with a penalty of $2,000 under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs, and agreement not to discriminate in the future. However, Stutzman responded that she would not comply, citing the state’s constitution ‘freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment’.

On January 7, 2015, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom ruled the owner was personally liable, concluding that Arlene’s Flowers must provide full wedding support for same-sex ceremonies, including custom design work to decorate the ceremony, delivery to the forum, staying at the ceremony to touch up arrangements, and assisting the wedding party.

The third lawsuit, Arlene’s Flowers v. Ferguson, was filed as a countersuit by Stutzman to claim financial damages caused by the previous two lawsuits. On February 18, 2015, Judge Ekstrom ruled that she had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law in both cases. On February 19, 2015, Stutzman stated she would appeal the ruling. On March 27, 2015, Judge Ekstrom ordered Stutzman to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $1 for court costs and fees.

Stutzman had received over $174,000 in individual donations on a crowdfunding site prior to that site removing her donation page citing a violation of the website’s terms of service, which bar fundraising campaigns that it deems “discriminatory.”

McCoy held up the First Amendment in referring to Stutzman’s rights as a business owner:   “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”

According to McCoy, “Progressivism is a religion disguised as a political movement while Islam is a political system disguised as a religion.”  He added:   “Christianity is counter-culture.  The push (must be) to change (or) transform culture” even when it goes against what is politically correct.

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:  Hernandez.mike@aol.com.

Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.


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