RICHLAND, Wash. (Christian Examiner) – Barronelle Stutzman has written the state attorney general for Washington, telling him his settlement offer showed he does not "really understand me or what this conflict is all about" and that her "freedom to honor God" was more important than losing her home.
Bob Ferguson has been prosecuting Stutzman's florist shop "Arlene's Flowers" and Stutzman personally, for having declined to provide floral arrangements for a gay couple's wedding ceremony in 2013.
A Benton County judge ruled Feb. 18 against Stutzman but deferred ruling on fines and damages. The same-sex couple was asking for $7.91 in damages for the gas they spent looking for another florist. But homosexual activists have deluged her floral shop with requests to provide flowers to gay weddings knowing each refusal was a violation carrying fines up to $2,000 apiece.
Ferguson has offered to settle the matter "for a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation," according to a press release.
Stutzman, in a letter, declined his offer.
"Washington's constitution guarantees us 'freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment,' she said. "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."
She also explained she did not discriminate against LGBT individuals, but only declines to give approval to same-sex marriages in her decision not to service gay weddings.
"I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend," she wrote. I've also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens in this case."
She also took issue with what she perceives as Ferguson's personal vendetta against her, saying he "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."
For his part, Ferguson denies he was doing anything more than pursuing the law, and said his "primary goal" was to end her "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
"Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law," he said in his published statement. " 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."