Barronelle Stutzman, florist gay rights,

Barronelle Stutzman

Eight years ago, florist Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richmond, Washington refused to serve a gay couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, for their wedding. The couple was deeply hurt by her decision because Ingersoll had been a long-time client of the flower shop.

"After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we canceled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead," said Robert Ingersoll in a statement.

The couple sued the shop with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union under Washington's anti-discrimination law. The rule states that businesses that are open to the general public cannot refuse to serve someone based on their sexual orientation. The law specifies that this form of discrimination is illegal even if it's based on someone's sincere religious beliefs.

Stutzman, who was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) claimed that her "religious freedom" granted her the right to discriminate against the couple and that being forced to sell flowers to them violated her freedom of speech.


According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization has a long history of promoting homophobia:

"The Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a "homosexual agenda" will destroy Christianity and society."

The case went all the way to the state's Supreme Court who unanimously ruled against Stutzman.

The Court believes that selling flowers to a gay couple for their wedding wasn't an endorsement of same-sex marriage. "As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism."

However, the fight didn't stop there. Stutzman filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case back to the state of Washinton to take another look. A year later, the state reaffirmed its decision. Then, the case was sent back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court denied a petition by Stutzman and her lawyers in July of 2021, over the dissent of conservative judges Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito.

Earlier this month, the court battle came to an end when Stutzman agreed to withdraw her petition and agreed to pay $5,000 to Ingersoll and Freed. The couple has agreed to donate the money to an LGBT youth charity.

Her lawyers say that Stutzman is "at peace" with the settlement because she can "finally retire with her conscience intact, and she knows that the legal effort to protect the artistic freedoms of creative professionals" will continue in other challenges.

The couple hopes that their hard-fought battle means that other same-sex couples won't have to endure the same discrimination they did.

"We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did," Ingersoll said in a statement.

Stutzman fought against providing flowers for a same-sex wedding because she believed doing so violated her religious beliefs. But does she understand that her high-profile court cases stretching over eight years probably did much more harm than good for her faith?

The number of people who identify as Christian has been on a steep decline for the past 10 years in America and a major reason is the religion's views on LGBTQ issues.

If more people went out on a limb to promote the ideas of peace and love that were at the core of Christ's teachings, they'd bring a lot more people to the faith than by making sacrifices to promote intolerance.


Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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I almost didn't create this post this week.

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