October 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM
A Richland florist is asking a Benton County Superior Court judge to dismiss a state lawsuit against her for refusing to provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding, saying Attorney General Bob Ferguson lacks the authority to bring the suit, particularly since the couple at the center of the case never complained to the state.
In April, the attorney general sued Arlene’s Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, under the state’s consumer-protection law after reading news accounts about her refusal to provide wedding flowers for the upcoming wedding of two gay men.
Days later, the ACLU of Washington filed a civil suit against Stutzman on behalf of the men, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. The two cases have been consolidated.
Stutzman is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization that defends individuals in religion-based suits.
In their motion to dismiss the state’s case against the florist, they argue that for 30 years, the attorney general’s office refused to address discrimination complaints directly, deferring instead to the Washington Human Rights Commission, which is charged with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
They argue the state has “undeniably failed” to pursue any of a range of remedies available through the commission’s administrative process.
In a separate motion, they are also asking the judge to dismiss claims in both cases that Stutzman is personally liable as a corporate officer of her company, pointing out that state law does not allow someone to attack a corporate officer personally, except under exceptional circumstances when that person knowingly engaged in fraud, misrepresentation or theft.
September 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Retired Seattle Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett suffered a stroke Thursday and is in critical but stable condition in the intensive-care unit at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.
Brunett underwent surgery Thursday evening, according to a statement Friday from the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The 79-year-old Brunett was able to respond to voice commands following the operation.
Brunett served as archbishop from 1997 to 2010, acting as the spiritual leader of nearly 1 million Catholics in Western Washington. His successor, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, was with him at the hospital and administered the anointing of the sick.
Brunett is expected to remain in the hospital for several days, and is not able to receive visitors, according to the Archdiocese.
In a 2010 profile, Brunett was said to have left behind a “vibrant” archdiocese.
June 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Catholic bishops of Washington state have stated there will be no changes to church teaching in response to recent membership policy changes by the Boy Scouts of America.
National Scout leadership voted last month to admit openly gay Scouts as members.
“The Catholic Church teaches that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect,” according to the statement sent to all Washington Catholic parishes and posted on dioceses’ websites. The bishops affirmed their support of the mission of the Boy Scouts to guide young people in making good life decisions and participate in their churches and community.
The statement comes after a meeting last Wednesday to discuss the new scouting policy attended by Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, Spokane Diocese Bishop Blase Cupich, Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson and Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo.
The bishops said that Scouting’s decision to allow gay young people to participate “does not affect the teachings of the Catholic Church or the manner in which the Catholic parishes in Washington state conduct the scouting programs under their sponsorship.”
Last month one local Catholic parish, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Bremerton, decided to end sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop because the pastor, Father Derek Lappe, felt the new policy encourages young men to come out or identify as gay.
Current Catholic Church policy allows local parishes and pastors to charter Boy Scout troops or Cub Scout packs at their own discretion.
“They’re also not required to sponsor any organization if they choose,” Seattle Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said.
May 31, 2013 at 11:49 AM
The ACLU of Washington and 10 other advocacy organizations have asked Gov. Jay Inslee to enact a six-month moratorium on state approvals of hospital mergers, saying religious-secular affiliations put patients at risk of being denied legal health services because of Catholic religious restrictions.
Recently, the state Department of Health, through its Certificate of Need program, approved an application by PeaceHealth, a Catholic health system founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, to lease and operate United General Hospital, owned by a tax-supported public hospital district in Sedro Woolley, Skagit County.
In its evaluation, the state noted that the proposed arrangement had drawn criticism from those concerned about access to women’s reproductive services and end-of-life care options. But the state said that under the status quo the hospital was in danger of having to close, and it did not expect the lease-operation agreement to close any existing services.
The arrangement is the latest in a string of affiliations between secular and Catholic hospital systems in Washington.
The ACLU letter to to Inslee cites “serious state constitutional concerns when public, tax-funded hospitals consolidate with religious health care corporations,” sometimes with arrangements that include long-term taxpayer subsidies going to religious health-care corporations.
Jason McGill, Inslee’s executive policy advisor, said: “The Governor does want to protect women’s access to reproductive services and ensure that we have a competitive health care environment, so he is concerned about some of the allegations.”
Inslee has asked staff to research “all available options” that will help ensure all Washingtonians maintain access to all health care services, from reproductive care to end-of life-services, said Jaime Smith, Inslee spokesman. “The options we’re looking into include the moratorium.”
March 15, 2013 at 8:28 AM
LONGVIEW (AP) — The Rev. Larry Pedigo of Highlands Baptist Church delivered the invocation at Thursday’s City Council meeting and ended the prayer, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“Amen,” came the hearty response in the council chambers, The Daily News reported Friday.
Longview Mayor Don Jensen told the audience that until the council takes formal action to remove the invocation from the meeting agendas, the prayer stays.
During the public comment period, some people said they felt they have a legal right to a Christian invocation.
Jensen said the council will discuss its invocation policy next week at a workshop.
“We want to do it right now, and we want to have a policy so we try not to get afoul of the law,” he said.
A citizen’s complaint about the Christian prayer prompted Jensen to tell the Kelso-Longview Ministerial Association last month it was not acceptable to invoke Christ’s name at the council invocation because it could expose the city to a lawsuit. The ministerial association told the council its members would no longer provide invocations. Councilman Mike Wallin invited Pastor Pedigo.
Invocations have been a regular part of Longview’s council agenda since the late 1950s. Longview resident Dan Smith has repeatedly written to council members to argue that non-Christians shouldn’t have to endure a prayer at a government meeting, and that he would certainly win if he took the city to court.
City Attorney James McNamara said the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that invocations can be given at City Council meetings, but different courts have reached different conclusions about whether the prayer may invoke Jesus Christ’s name.
After the meeting, a dismayed Smith said, “They won.”
He couldn’t believe none of the Christians who expressed support to him for his stance didn’t address the council, he said.
“I wanted to present the discussion. I did. I’m not a leader. I don’t want to be a leader,” Smith said. “I’m disappointed in Longview.
March 6, 2013 at 10:04 AM
LONGVIEW (AP) — Ministers should refrain from invoking Jesus Christ in invocations for City Council meetings, Longview Mayor Don Jensen said.
Jensen told the Kelso-Longview Ministerial Association last month that such prayers were not acceptable because they could expose the city to a lawsuit, The Daily News reported Tuesday.
“It’s not my choice to stop this, but I don’t know how we can put our citizens at jeopardy and cost our city and our citizens a lot of money,” said Jensen, who met with the association upon the advice of the city attorney.
If they can’t speak the name Jesus Christ, association ministers will no longer provide the invocation, said President Mark Schmutz, pastor of Northlake Baptist Church. He called the development sad and disappointing.
“They’re asking us not to do what we’re (called) to do,” he said. “This is the one and only true God, and so we’re not trying to be against anybody — we’re just being clear about what we’re for.”
A Christian invocation has started Longview City Council meetings since the 1950s. There was no invocation at last Thursday’s meeting.
The invocation complaint was lodged by Longview resident Dan L. Smith, 69, who describes himself as a “very comfortable atheist.” (more…)
February 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM
At a news conference this morning, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he has strongly mixed feelings about the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign at the end of the month. Sartain said he learned the news early this morning, when he felt a prompting to turn on the television. He went directly to his chapel to pray for the pope, whom he has met several times and found to be kind and a very humble man.
Sartain said he was surprised by the pope’s resignation, and wondered if it would be precedent-setting for future popes who also might find the rigors of a pope’s schedule exhausting as they age. The pope, Sartain said, often looks tired.
He said he is not worried about the resignation weakening the church. In fact, he said, he sees it as “a sign of his own strength of resolve to do what’s best for the church.” He doesn’t anticipate any big changes with the change in leadership, he said. “I think we’ll have a new shepherd.”
He declined to speculate about the pope’s replacement.
Sartain described the pope as a gentle and humble person who looked directly into his eyes while talking to him and conveyed a sense that he was offering great personal care.
October 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM
The Associated Press
TACOMA — The American Civil Liberties Union says the Pierce County Jail has agreed to make changes to accommodate Muslim inmates.
They include allowing prayer rugs and brimless caps that had been prohibited and making halal meals available, similar to kosher food for Jewish inmates.
The ACLU said Wednesday the new policies settle a lawsuit filed two years ago in federal court in Tacoma. As part of the settlement Pierce County paid $200,000 in legal fees and costs.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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