Washington flower shop refuses order for gay couple
Apr 9, 2013, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:45 pm
(Linda Thomas photo)
Washington’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a floral shop that refused to provide wedding flowers to a same-sex couple.
The AG’s office says the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland refused to provide wedding flowers to longtime customer, Robert Ingersoll, based on her opposition to same-sex marriage.
Shop owner Barronelle Stutzman said she would not provide flowers “because of her relationship with Jesus Christ.”
According to the consumer protection lawsuit, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to shop owner Barronelle Stutzman requesting she “reconsider her position and sign an agreement indicating her intention to comply with Washington laws.”
Stutsman’s attorneys responded that she would not change her mind and decided instead to challenge any state action to enforce the law.
It is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation, Ferguson notes in the complaint.
If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service, according to Washington state law.
The suit, filed in Benton County Superior Court, seeks a permanent injunction requiring Arlene’s Flowers to comply with the state’s consumer protection laws.
The state also seeks $2,000 in fines.
In a similar case in Oregon, where a bakery refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, no action was pursued against the bakery owner.
By LINDA THOMAS