GoFundMe, an online fundraising website, has taken down the donation webpage for 70-year-old Christian grandma-florist Barronelle Stutzman, who is at risk of losing her flower shop and life savings after she declined to work a same-sex wedding because of her Christian beliefs.
After GoFundMe caved to LGBT-activist pressure and shut down another fundraising page earlier this week that supported the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which was court ordered to pay $135,000 to a gay couple after declining to bake a cake for their wedding, TheBlaze's Dana Loesch tweeted on Monday that GoFundMe discreetly removed Stutzman's campaign from its site, which had been operating for about two months.
Stutzman, who owns Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, was ruled guilty of violating the state's anti-discrimination ordinance in late March, and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,001 and is also liable for paying court costs and legal fees incurred by the same-sex couple.
The amount of which Stutzman will be ordered to pay is yet to be determined, as the court will let the appeal process play out. However, Stutzman's lawyer, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristen Waggoner, indicated on multiple occasions that the outcome could cause Stutzman "personal and financial ruin."
Before Stutzman's page was shut down, it had raised over $174,000. Although the shutting down of Stutzman's campaign did not come with an announcement from GoFundMe on why they took such action, GoFundMe's reasoning for removing the Sweet Cakes by Melissa campaign, which had raised over 109,000 in nine hours, was that the owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, had been "formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law."
In a statement provided to the Daily Signal, a GoFundMe spokesperson said the decision to remove Stutzman's fundraising campaign was due to the fact that "she was in violation of GoFundMe terms."
"The same conclusion was recently reached in regards to the 'Sweet Cakes by Melissa' campaign based on a similar violation of terms," the spokesperson explained.
Even though Stutzman has employed and frequently served homosexual individuals in the past, including serving Robert Ingersoll — the gay man who sued Stutzman — for nearly a decade, she has been cast by LGBT activists as an intolerable bigot simply because she did not want to take part in a marriage ceremony that went against her sincerely held religious beliefs.
"What does this say for the future of religious freedom in America? If Americans are not free to decline to be involved in a specific activity that violates their beliefs, then we are not free," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued in a statement to The Christian Post. "In less than eight hours over $100K was raised for the Kleins until gay activists forced GoFundMe to pull the plug. This reveals two very important aspects of the redefinition of marriage: Americans are not going along with it, and the intolerance of those trying to redefine marriage is historically unprecedented."
In a statement to the Daily Signal, Waggoner called out GoFundMe, gay activists and other LGBT organizations for aiming to completely destroy the lives of those they don't agree with politically.
"The opponents of freedom have to ruin every aspect of the lives of those who disagree — denying them a living, the ability to feed their families and the opportunity to raise money to pay the so-called 'victims,'" Waggoner asserted. "This type of vindictive, hateful behavior is terrifying. Corporations like Apple, Salesforce, and GoFundMe want to make sure they can live and work consistent with their beliefs about marriage, but then deny that same right to people like Barronelle Stutzman who lovingly served her customer for nearly a decade but simply couldn't participate in the celebration of his same-sex wedding."
Although Stutzman's GoFundMe page was taken down, supporters can still offer their donations through an Alliance Defending Freedom online fundraising campaign. Likewise, Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse has set up an online fundraising avenue for Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
Waggoner and the rest of Stutzman's legal team filed an appeal of the Benton County Superior Court's guilty ruling on Monday. Stutzman's legal battle, which has gone on since 2013 when the state's attorney general's office first filed a lawsuit against her, will continue. Additionally, the gay couple filed a separate lawsuit against Stutzman and are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The message that the attorney general and the ACLU have sent to the people of Washington in these two lawsuits is quite clear: surrender your religious liberty and freedom of speech, or face personal and professional ruin," Waggoner said in a statement. "The trial court's ruling affects all Americans who wish to remain free to live and work according to their faith without fear of punishment by the government,"Waggoner said. "For that reason and others, we are requesting that the Washington Supreme Court grant direct review of Barronelle's case."