Supreme Court tells court to reconsider case of florist who refused flowers for gay wedding
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday told the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider a decision upholding a fine and citation against a Christian florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.
The Supreme Court told Washington’s high court to reconsider the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, in light of its decision earlier this month in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission violated the free exercise rights of a Christian baker Jack Phillips by showing hostility to his explained religious reasons for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
In Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington, Stutzman had asked the Supreme Court to consider whether requiring her to provide the flowers would violate her First Amendment rights to free speech and religion. The Supreme Court order gives Stutzman a chance to prove she was the victim of religious hostility.
The Alliance Defending Freedom represented both Phillips and Stutzman. “Barronelle, like Jack, serves all customers but declines to create custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF lawyer Kristen Waggoner in a press release. “The Washington attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack.”
The American Civil Liberties Union had represented the gay couple, Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll. “To be clear, the [Supreme] Court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case’s merits,” said lawyer said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project in a press release. “We are confident that the Washington State Supreme Court will rule once again in favor of the same-sex couple, and reaffirm its decision that no business has a right to discriminate. Our work to ensure LGBT equality is the law and the norm in all 50 states will continue.”