A florist in Washington State has refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding because of her religious beliefs.
Owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stuzman declined to provide flowers for the wedding of Rob Ingersoll and his partner of nine years, Curt.
When Mr Ingersoll asked Ms Stuzman, she politely refused because she believes marriage should be between one man and one woman, reports KNDU.
She said: “I just took his hands and I said I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Mr Ingersoll was shocked because he had been using the florist for years and this had never come up despite the two men having sent flowers to each other.
Fighting back tears, he said: “It came as a shock to me because I’ve had a nine year relationship with Barronelle and have never thought there was a reason that she wouldn’t…”
The incident took place last Friday and Mr Ingersoll posted what happened to his personal Facebook page after which the word spread like “wildfire.”
Ms Stuzman said she started to receive so many mixed reactions that she posted a response on her company Facebook page.
She claimed: “I’ve had hate mail. I’ve had people who want to burn my building, I’ve had people say they’ll never shop here again and tell all their friends.
“And I’ve had other people say thanks for standing up for your convictions and we’ll shop here and we’ll back you in any way we can.”
Jill Mullins, of the gay rights attorney organization QLaw Foundation, said that Ms Stuzman has violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
However, Ms Stuzman maintains that she does not discriminate against gay people.
She said: “We hire gay people. I have friends that are gay, that wasn’t the issue. The issue is that I just didn’t want to participate in the marriage.”
Mr Ingersoll is still undecided on how he will proceed but several attorneys including the American Civil Liberties Union have contacted him.