Richland, WA – A Washington florist is being sued for refusing to supply flowers for a same-sex wedding.
Barronelle Stutzman, who owns Arlene’s Flower Shop in Richland, Washington, was approached by a gay man who wanted her to supply flowers for his upcoming wedding.
“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” Stutzman said. “We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed that was the end of the story.”
Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, who have been buying flowers from Stutzman for almost a decade, posted online about Stutzman’s refusal to provide flowers for their wedding. The story went viral in two days in the Tri-Cities area. The Facebook page for Arlene’s Flower Shop was quickly flooded with comments from supporters on both sides.
“Religious beliefs have been invoked to justify denying women the right to vote; to prohibit men and women of different races from getting married; and to support segregation in schools, businesses, and other public places,” one commenter wrote. “Just as courts have held that those forms of discrimination are not permitted, even on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs, so is discrimination based on sexual orientation unlawful.”
A supporter of Stutzman’s decision wrote, “In my family’s prayers! There is no reason to force others who believe homosexuality to be immoral to support what they call ‘gay marriage.’ I’m sorry they think they can force you to support this perversity (Rom 1).”
Stutzman has taken the attention she has received for her decision in stride. She said she believes she has the right to refuse service — even though the state says she is not legally allowed to. Under Washington state law, sexual orientation is a protected class. The state’s attorney general Bob Ferguson has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Stutzman.
“As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. 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.”
The incident is similar to one that happened last year, in which an Oregon bakery refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The couple then received an offer for a free cake from Charm City Cakes owner Duff Goldman.
Do you think Barronelle Stutzman had the right to refuse supplying flowers for a same-sex wedding?