Florist who refused to provide flowers for gay wedding is sued by state AG
Posted Apr 10, 2013 11:57 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The attorney general of Washington state has sued a florist who refused to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued under provisions of the state’s Consumer Protection Act that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, report the Seattle Times, the Tri-City Herald, CBS Seattle and Seattle PI. The defendant is Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland.
The suit seeks an injunction requiring the florist to comply with the law and a fine of $2,000 for each legal violation. Ferguson filed suit after he learned of complaints on Facebook by longtime customer Robert Ingersoll, who told of Stutzman’s refusal.
Stutzman told her side of the story to KEPR last month. “He [Ingersoll] said he decided to get married and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story,” she said.
A lawyer for the florist shop, JD Bristol, told the Seattle Times that there was no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. His client “has a conscientious objection to homosexual marriage, not homosexuality,” he said. “It violates her conscience.”
Bristol said his client would stand by her convictions. “I one hundred percent believe this is a freedom-of-expression and free-exercise-of-religion issue,” he said. “What the government is saying here is that you don’t have the right to free religious exercise.”