Florist Won't Back-Petal on Marriage
In Eastern Washington, religious hostility is in full bloom. Just ask Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers. After a longtime business relationship with an openly gay customer, Stutzman now finds herself in Benton County Superior Court fighting for her rights. When her client, Robert Ingersoll, stopped by Arlene's Flowers in March to make arrangements for his upcoming wedding, Barronelle kindly told him that she couldn't help. As a Christian, she explained, she objected to same-sex "marriage" on moral grounds. Robert said he respected her opinion, the two hugged, and parted ways.
To Stutzman's surprise, they were reunited by an interesting source: the Washington State Attorney General, who is now suing the shop for sexual discrimination. "Nonsense," says her attorney, JD Bristol. "Arlene's Flowers has catered to all patrons, including homosexuals, for many years." In fact, he points out, "Arlene's Flowers has had openly gay employees." "This is about gay marriage," Bristol argued, "it's not about a person being gay. She has a conscientious objection to homosexual 'marriage,' not homosexuality. It violates her conscience."
Unlike other lawsuits, Barronelle's case is unique in that she has a history of serving Ingersoll on several other occasions. She only drew the line here because it would require her participation in a ceremony that violates her faith. If she refuses, however, the state is threatening a $2,000 fine.
Of course, leading up to last November's election, when Washington State voted to legalize same-sex "marriage," supporters argued that redefining marriage wouldn't hurt anyone--that it was just about two people who love each other. Well, it may be about two people who love each other, but it's also about the florists, the bakers, the candlestick makers, and everyone else the Left wants to force to endorse their relationship!
In an alert to supporters, our good friend Joseph Backholm with the Family Policy Institute of Washington says he tried to warn the state about the consequences of redefining marriage on education, parental rights, small business, and religious liberty. "Now that the law says marriage is genderless," he writes, "those who think otherwise [have a choice]: conform or be punished... Now liberals believe they are legally entitled to someone else's labor." Join Joseph and FRC in standing with Arlene's Flowers. Click over to our Facebook page, share the story, and show your support!
Strike It, Rich
If you want to know who the real threat to Americais, look in the mirror. According to Lt. Col. Jack Rich of the U.S. Army, our military should be on the lookout for people who share FRC's values. In an email to a few dozen subordinates, Col. Rich highlights FRC and American Family Association (AFA) as groups who do not share "our Army Values." Fox News's Todd Starnes broke the story yesterday afternoon, shocking the ranks of evangelical Christians who proudly serve in our nation's military.
"Just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values," Rich warned. "When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values--don't just walk by. Do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem." The 14-page email goes on to smear FRC and AFA by name, lumping us in with the real extremists of the Ku Klux Klan, Black Panthers, and neo-Nazis--a la the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). "The religious right in Americahas employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement," Rich insists. "One of those has been defamation." They are also guilty, he claims, of "engaging in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as 'perverts' with 'filthy habits' who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and 'convert' them to gay sex."
Ironically, Rich's message was sent just five days before the shooting at FRC--which happened to implicate the very group, SPLC, who engaged in reckless labeling in the first place. And while Pentagon spokesman George Wright insists that this was an isolated incident, Rich's email became public just days after the Army apologized for a PowerPoint slide that identified evangelical Christians, Catholics, and orthodox Jews as "religious extremists"--a comparison so outrageous that House members are filing an official inquiry with the Secretary of the Army.
Calling the presentation "unacceptable," Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and several other members are demanding answers. "This briefing reveals an anti-religion bias rather than a rational approach to religious extremism," they write. Together, the leaders ask for an investigation into "who received this briefing, the specific information sources on which the briefing was based, and what the Army is doing to ensure that this sort of offensive briefing is not given again." After yesterday's revelation, they may also want to ask why a lieutenant colonel is telling his subordinates that conservative values are incompatible with Army service.
Obviously, the Obama administration is using the military as a laboratory for social experimentation--and as an instrument to fundamentally change America. But it's even more disturbing that the Obama military is taking its marching orders from the SPLC, a leftist, anti-Christian organization that has been linked in federal court to an act of domestic terrorism. Unfortunately for this White House, the vast majority of the men and women in uniform do share FRC's values of God, family, and country. Sadly, that isn't stopping officers like Jack Rich from trying to jeopardize the constitutional rights of the military to curry favor with the administration.
Wolf Shows Teeth on Benghazi
It's been almost seven months since one of the worst attacks on a U.S.embassy in American history. After the brutal deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi, the American people are still demanding answers. With the help of the U.S. House and 700 military special ops veterans, they may finally get them. This afternoon, FRC's LTG Jerry Boykin joined Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney at the Capitol for a special press conference on the tragedy of September 11, 2012.
Together with 78 House members, they're urging support for a special resolution to create a select committee to investigate the attack in Libya and get to the bottom of whatever the Obama administration is hiding. "It's time," the group urges, "to bring these varying probes under one select committee to give this investigation the stature and attention it deserves. Much time has been lost, but there is still adequate time to change course and conduct a consolidated and thorough investigation." Do your part by encouraging your member to co-sponsor H. Res. 36 and vote on its behalf. Click here to send an email to your representative and help force some accountability on an important issue of national security.
** Early this morning, I had the chance to join "Fox & Friends" to weigh in on MSNBC's absurd promo that argues children don't belong to parents--but the entire community! If you missed it, click below for the video.
*** Tune in at the 5:00 p.m. hour (ET) for today's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins!" We'll welcome Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, who will explain the controversy over his recent Facebook post on the health harms of homosexuality. Also, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) will be on the show to discuss his public statement in support of natural marriage. To listen live, click over to TonyPerkins.com.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.