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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 19, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Richland florist refuses sale to gay couple

Florist should not be required to apologize

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) requirement that Barronelle Stutzman apologize or face a lawsuit for her refusal to sell flowers to a gay couple is precisely the wrong approach [“Case against florist fires up gay-marriage critics,” page one, April 18].

This dispute does not have to be about blame. It should be an opportunity for Washingtonians to wrestle with fundamental questions and hopefully arrive at the right result.

Two Constitutional rights are in conflict: The 14th Amendment right of a protected class to receive equal protection under the law — as reflected in Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination in trade or commerce against a protected class — and the First Amendment right of an individual to freely exercise his or her religious beliefs.

Personally, I think Stutzman should sell flowers to all, irrespective of orientation. But she certainly need not apologize for her beliefs.

We all face the challenge of exercising our beliefs while accounting for their impact on others. But the ACLU’s approach of extorting an apology leads to the unnecessary polarization that The Seattle Times’ article well describes.

David Voyles, Seattle

Equal treatment means equal treatment

Joseph Backholm said that, because of her religious convictions, the florist “didn’t want to be involved in a same-sex marriage” and “People don’t want to pass some philosophical litmus test to participate in this society.” [“Case against florist fires up gay-marriage critics,” page one, April 18].

That logic allows gay people (like countless other minorities before them) to be served only if they pass the florist’s personal philosophical, religious or, I don’t know, icky-factor test. Equal treatment under the law means just that, not equal treatment only if a person likes the law.

Ron Anderson, Seattle

Comments | More in Gay marriage, Gay rights

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