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Daily Sun News Editorial

Religious rights need to be taken seriously, too

— Strike a blow for Constitutional rights.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court found, 7-2, in favor of Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips, who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.

Phillips based his arguments on two constitutional rights — the right to free speech and the right to freedom of religion. The U.S. Supreme Court found merit in both arguments. But in the majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy found particular leverage in religious arguments, noting Colorado unfairly disregarded Phillips’ 1st Amendment right that “laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

While the high court didn’t come out and explicitly say it, the decision suggests the state discriminated against the baker because of his Christian beliefs.

Sounds like a similar case here in Eastern Washington.

Like Phillips, Arlene Stutzman, a Christian florist and owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, has been accused of discrimination for refusing to provide her services for a gay wedding. And like Phillips, her rights to religions freedom, free speech and protection from discrimination have been violated by state officials.

Here, the state Supreme Court sided with State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a gay couple wanting her services. By a 9-0 decision, the state high court called the religious objections discrimination against an alternative lifestyle.

Unfortunately, our state’s activist judges don’t view the issue the same way the U.S. Supreme Court does. Not surprising — to win election to the state Supreme Court, you generally have to win King County and the support of its gay community. You don’t have to win conservative Eastern Washington.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Ferguson, likewise, kowtow to the alternate lifestyle community, with less regard for residents east of the Cascades.

As a result, Stutzman’s case is possibly headed for a showdown in the highest court in the United States.

Attorney Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom represents both Phillips and Stutzman. He said these cases highlight states bullying and harassing business owners to push a social agenda.

Unfortunately, he appears to be right. And, unfortunately, it means taxpayers statewide will be on the hook financially for millions of dollars in lawsuits, at least until state officials start taking religious freedoms as seriously as they do rights for alternative lifestyles.


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