Less than 48 hours after the crowdfunding website GoFundMe shut down a campaign setup for Sweet Cakes by Melissa, GoFundMe yanked a similar fundraiser for a 70-year-old Washington florist facing seven-figure financial penalties for violating her state’s anti-discrimination law.
The campaign, created for Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist who refused to make flower arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding, had been operating on GoFundMe for over two months.
It wasn’t until GoFundMe removed the Sweet Cakes by Melissa campaign—meant for Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon-based bakers who were fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding—that it closed the account for Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers.
Before it was shut down, Stutzman’s GoFundMe page had raised more than $174,000 in donations.
In a statement to The Daily Signal, a spokesperson for GoFundMe said the decision “to remove the ‘Arlene’s Flowers’ campaign was based on a violation of GoFundMe’s terms.”
The same conclusion was recently reached in regards to the “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” campaign based on a similar violation of terms.
Meanwhile, the Sweet Cakes by Melissa campaign had raised more than $109,000 in nine hours before being removed.
A Facebook group, called “Boycott Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Gresham, OR,” sought to shut the account down.
In multiple posts, the group linked to the Klein’s GoFundMe page, writing, “How fast can we shut this down.”
Kristen Waggoner, the attorney representing Stutzman on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Signal that opponents are trying to bully people like Stutzman and the Kleins who are trying to live in accordance to their faith.
“It’s not enough to have the government redefine marriage or to punish those who disagree,” she said.
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.’ 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.
Stutzman, like the Kleins, was charged with violating the state’s anti-discrimination law.
She refused to serve a longtime customer, Robert Ingersoll, who was seeking flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
The GoFundMe page for Stutzman said that the money may be used to help pay the other sides’ legal fees associated with her case, and said she would donate any leftover money to people facing similar lawsuits.
The bulk of the financial penalties Stutzman faces will come from legal fees on behalf of the state and couple.
Because the case is still ongoing, her lawyer, Waggoner, does not know the exact cost of the legal fees Stutzman may end up owing the state and the ACLU (which are both involved with the lawsuit), but she estimated the cost to be close to seven figures.
GoFundMe says Stutzman will be able to keep the money already raised through donations.