Exclusive: Florist who refuses to do gay wedding speaks out

Barronelle Stutzman explains her stance


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," February 23, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, GUEST HOST: Now to a "Kelly File" Exclusive. A religious freedom fight getting national attention after Christian florist refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding because of her beliefs. Trace Gallagher is live in our West Coast newsroom to tell us the story. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, Barronelle Stutzman is a florist who employs gay people and serves gay clients. In fact, the gay couple at the center of this fight were long-time customers. But she refused to provide flowers for their wedding because she believes marriage is between a man and a woman. When the ACLU sued on behalf of the couple and the Washington State attorney general filed a consumer protection lawsuit against her, Stutzman, filed a counter-lawsuit.

But a superior court judge is now ruled against her saying the first amendment protects religious beliefs but not necessarily actions based on those beliefs. So, now the same-sex couple and the state are allowed to sue her for personal assets like her house and bank account. Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious freedom group defending Stutzman, says the attorney general is using the full power of his office to personally and professionally destroy her. The attorney general has agreed to settle the case for a $2,000 penalty if Stutzman agrees not to discriminate in the future.

The A.G. says quote, "My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the defendant's unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

But Stutzman compares the deal to the one Judas struck saying, quote, "I certainly don't relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important."


BREAM: All right. Trace, thank you so much.

Joining us now for her very first television interview, Barronelle Stutzman and her attorney, Kristen Waggoner. Great to see you both.  Thanks for coming on.


KRISTEN WAGGONER: Thanks for having us.

BREAM: All right. Barronelle, I want to ask you first of all, this customer was a long-time customer. I mean, you had a friendly relationship. You had done a lot of services with him. Why did you decide that you had to say no in this respect, and was it difficult for you to tell him that?

STUTZMAN: It was very difficult for me to tell Rob that I couldn't do his wedding. I love Rob. He's -- he's very special to me. But because of my relationship with Jesus Christ teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman, I -- I couldn't do his flowers and create something that was special for him because it would -- it would dishonor Christ.

BREAM: Did you have any idea you would end up where you are today when you made that decision?

STUTZMAN: No. Because Rob and -- when Rob came in and -- and told me he was getting married, and I told him the reason I couldn't do his wedding, we talked about how he got engaged, and we talked about his mom and maybe his mom could walk him down the aisle and he asked me if I had any other florist that I could recommend, and I did recommend three because I knew they'd do a good job for him, and I knew he wanted something special. And we hugged each other and he left.

BREAM: And from what I understand, he was able to get services elsewhere from -- from one of the folks that you recommended. But Kristen, this snowballed into something for a lot of people would be very unexpected from that conversation that you think is a friendly refusal to participate for very private reasons.

WAGGONER: Yes. The attorney general contacted the couple. They didn't file the initial complaint. The attorney general took it on after reading reports in the media. And the attorney general has relentlessly pursued Barronelle ever since. The court's decision, as well as the attorney general's actions are sending a very clear unmistakable message Barronelle and anyone like her which is that if you dare to decline the government will bring about your personal and your professional ruin if you don't help celebrate same-sex marriage.

BREAM: And Barronelle, they -- they offered to make you a deal. They said you pay this fine but also stop refusing specific weddings and we'll call it a day and it's all over. And you said.

STUTZMAN: No. It's not about the money. It's about freedom. It's about my eight kids and our 23 grandchildren and the future and now. There's not a price on freedom. You can't buy my freedom. And it's me now, but tomorrow it's going to be you. You got to wake up.

BREAM: Do you think people get that? Do you think maybe hearing your story, seeing a real person and knowing this is how these policies play out? You know, we talked about it wasn't possibly that you would just be out of business, but we're talking about a decision by the attorney general here -- the state attorney general that sounds like they could come after everything you have personally as well.

STUTZMAN: They're talking about bullying me into doing something that is against my faith. They can't do that. They can -- they can take away -- they can get rid of me, but they can't get rid of God.

BREAM: Do you think that there is a way to coexist? Do you think we'll come to a solution where you can have your religious beliefs but still have friendly relationships with people that you disagree with and there is space for everybody to operate in that without anyone getting sued?

STUTZMAN: That would be my hope. That would be my hope. Yes.

BREAM: All right. Well, quickly, do you -- I'm assuming you plan an appeal?

WAGGONER: We will appeal. It's not just the right of -- under the First Amendment for her free exercise of religion, but free expression, she's an artist. There's a lot at stake here.

BREAM: Kristen, Barronelle, thank you so much both of you for coming in.

STUTZMAN: Thank you.

WAGGONER: Thank you.

BREAM: We'll keep track of your case.

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