The Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a Washington state florist who declined to provide flowers for a gay wedding, just a week after ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to provide a cake for a gay wedding.
As The Hill reports, the Court tossed out a Washington Supreme Court ruling against florist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richmond. The SCOTUS decision allows Stutzman to have her case heard again by the Washington Supreme Court.
Monday’s ruling had less to do with the Constitutional issue of whether or not Washington could compel her to provide flowers for a gay couple, and more to do with whether or not Washington officials treated her fairly. The decision more or less mirrors a similar case out of Colorado.
In the Colorado decision, which was reported by the Inquisitr, the Court ruled in favor of baker Jack Phillips, who had refused to provide a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, a gay couple. The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker, but their ruling did not spell out whether or not Colorado could legally compel Phillips to provide a cake, regardless of his religious beliefs. Rather, the ruling simply stated that Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission was openly hostile to the baker and he was not treated fairly.
The Washington decision follows the precedent set by the Colorado decision, in which Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said states are free to enact laws that forbid discrimination in “places of public accommodation,” but they must enforce those laws fairly.
Neither ruling specifically decrees that states can or cannot compel service providers, such as florists or bakers, to provide services to gay weddings against their religious beliefs. And indeed, it remains unclear when, or even if, the Court will ever make such a decision.
Back in 2013, as the Tri-City Herald reported at the time, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed filed suit against the Richmond florist after she said she wouldn’t be able to provide flowers for their wedding because of her “relationship with Jesus.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined the case on behalf of the gay couple.
Stutzman’s attorney, JD Bristol, said that the issue wasn’t about selling flowers, but about using her time and talent, which she considered an artistic expression, to support the marriage of two men, which she believed was morally wrong. The couple’s attorneys said it was a simple matter of discrimination, which was forbidden by Washington law.