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Florist who refused flowers to gay wedding takes case to US Supreme Court

Bobby Rae February 17, 2017

The florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding is to take her case to the US Supreme Court.

Baronnelle Stutzman lost her case in Washington State’s Supreme Court this week when it found she had discriminated against a gay couple for refusing to provide flowers.

On Friday, the 72-year-old announced she would appeal the case to the highest court in the country.

Supported by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a spokesman for the group said: “Barronelle’s story demonstrates a troubling trend – governmental agencies and officials that have grown increasingly hostile to religious freedom, particularly the freedom of people who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“These widespread efforts to suppress freedom are rooted in a disdain for this particular religious belief – a belief that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, is ‘decent and honorable’ and held ‘in good faith by reasonable and sincere people’.”

The florist consistently said she was exercising her First Amendment right 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.

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

The Washington Supreme Court ruled that Ms 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 Ms 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 Ms Stutzman raised over $100,000 in 2015 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.

Ms Stutzman was later offered a deal where she would be fined $1,000, and $1 for court costs, but rejected it. The couple had also 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.

Ms 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.

More: arlene's flowers, barronelle stutzman, florist, US

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