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Washington Supreme Court rules that florist broke the law by refusing flowers to gay wedding

Joseph McCormick February 16, 2017
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The Supreme Court in Washington has sided with a gay couple in a lawsuit against a florist which refused to provide flowers for their wedding.

The ruling came on Thursday, after the court listed the case of Baronnelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, among five it would issue rulings in.

The florist consistently said she was exercising her First Amendment rights when she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding back in 2013.

She had previously served the couple, but said when it came to their wedding that it would have gone against her beliefs as a Christian.

She was sued by the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as the couple.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled that Stutzman had clearly broken the state’s anti-discrimination laws and that her Constitutional rights were not infringed by the 2015 ruling.

Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud in the 59-page ruling, said the lower court was right to fine Stutzman because she discriminated based on sexual orientation.

Thursday’s ruling was praised by Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

“By ruling that intolerance based on sexual orientation is unlawful, the court affirmed that Washington state will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love,” Inslee said.

“I am proud that our state was one of the first to vote to recognise same-sex marriage and that we continue to uphold the rights of all our residents.”

Supporters of Stutzman back in 2015 raised over $100,000 to pay her legal fees.

A ruling was made by Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C Ekstrom in February 2015, who said the florist, Arlene’s Flowers, violated consumer protections in saying she would not sell flowers to the longtime customer for their wedding due to her religious beliefs.

Baronelle Stutzman was later fined $1,000, and $1 for court costs, but the couple had been seeking fees and damages.

“The 70-year-old grandmother may lose her business, her home, and her savings – because she stood for her faith, she could lose everything she owns,” the florist’s site previously.

Judge Ekstrom said the couple were protected by the state of Washington’s Law Against Discrimination.

The law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed married in 2013, but had been customers at the florist for almost ten years.

Stutzman told them she wouldn’t provide wedding flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Donations to support a homophobic pizzeria the owners of which said they’d refuse to serve a gay wedding recently reached almost a million dollars.

Related topics: arlene's flowers, barronelle stutzman, florist, US

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