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State files suit against florist for refusing to sell flowers for gay wedding

arlenes

(Photo: thinkprogress.org)

OLYMPIA — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday against Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts of Richland, Wash., for refusing to provide wedding flowers for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

The Attorney General’s Office said that on March 1, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to provide wedding flowers to longtime customer Robert Ingersoll based on her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Ferguson sent a letter to Stutzman on March 28 requesting she reconsider her position and sign an agreement indicating her intention to comply with Washington laws. Stutzman’s attorneys responded Monday and said that Stutzman would challenge any state action to enforce the law.

“As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a news release. “Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of 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.”

In a complaint filed in Benton County Superior Court Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office 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 for every violation of the law.

Here is the letter the Attorney General sent to the owner of Arlene’s Flowers: StutzmanShifleyLtrAOD.2013-03-28

And here is the response of the attorney’s representing the owner of Arelene’s Flowers: 2013 04 08 Response to AG

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41 comments

  • guest

    as a business owner I have the right to refuse service to anyone!!!!! They can spend their money elsewhere if I choose not to do business with them. The law cannot require that you do business with every person that asks you to.

    • Redeemed

      I don't have to sell to anyone I don't want to its called liberty freedom of choice. I am not the government nor I am I denying you job, loan or health care services. I am selling something you want, not need, thus I am a private business and do not want theirs. Go buy your flowers elsewhere. I do not condone calling abnormal behavior normal nor will I support those who do or engage in the debauchery acts against nature. You should rejoice I am allow to identify myself as such and spend your money with those who support such sexual deviations. By allowing my 1st amendment you can enjoy yours as well unless you’re a typical liberal hypocrite. Who screams tolerance but is intolerant to my values.

      • jaydee1980

        "spend your money with those who support such sexual deviations"

        Channeling Westboro here. And you wonder why people disagree so much with you. You sound insane.

        • Chris

          Oh look, someone doesn't agree with the lifestyle so they are in line with Westboro and the name calling begins. We are constantly making religious exceptions and this is no different. Don't come to the business but we will not be forced to compromise our morals in our private business. They have nothing against the individual because they've done much business in the past. It was only when the florist was asked to participate in the ceremony did he object.

          Go walk into an all female gym like Curves and demand you be admitted because you are male. They will show you the door.

  • Redeemed

    Hey Bob,

    Is the state going to come after every citizen that refuses to support those engaged in unnatural acts?
    What if someone puts a item for sale in craig's list and refuses the business of someone who promotes or participates in that business? But you never went after someone that refused to due business with other types of sexual deviants?

    Citizens is this what our state should be spending their money one?

  • Mike

    WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION – ARTICLE I – DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
    SECTION 11: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.
    Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion;
    This Attorney General is going to molest and disturb the owner of a flowershop, to satisfy a deviant sexual perversion. Homosexuality may be genetic, but so is alcoholism, you do not celebrate a genetic mutation and completely reorder society to accommodate the sexual fetish of a tiny minority. No amount of coercion is going to change the fact homosexuality is abnormal behavior. The 1st Amendment to the U.S. constitution articulates a freedom of association, I choose not to associate with homosexuals, I will opt out of any government activity that supports homosexuality, if the social security administration starts to pay "partner" benifits to homosexuals I will not pay in nor will I receive it, I will have been fleeced for my years of contributions, but my faith is more important to me. A solution would be to have government get out of marriage altogether and treat everyone as individuals for taxing purposes period.

    • sevenaces

      The individual is protected by freedom of religion, the business is not. The business, being of a public nature and service must service everyone equally as defined by law. Nobody is telling the owner that she must change her views and agree with with something that she doesn't. They are telling her that her business must comply with the law. Pretty simple stuff.

      Being of "abnormal," "liberal" persuasion myself, I will be the first to say that this isn't newsworthy and the media is making this into a witch hunt. Fine the lady for non-compliance, find a new florist and tell your friends why. But the rest of us have more important things to worry about.

      • Redeemed

        Is the state going to come after every citizen that refuses to support those engaged in unnatural acts?
        What if someone puts a item for sale in craig's list and refuses the business of someone who promotes or participates in that business? But you never went after someone that refused to due business with other types of sexual deviants?

        Citizens is this what our state should be spending their money one?

        Read more: http://q13fox.com/2013/04/09/state-files-suit-aga

        • sevenaces

          A) The state should go after every BUSINESS that refuses to SERVICE the public equally.

          B) If the "acts" were unnatural, they wouldn't occur in nature. Yet, they do. That makes them perfectly natural.

          C) If someone sells something on Craigslist through a "for sale by owner" -type ad, it is a private transaction and they are not subject legally to the laws that govern public businesses. If a business advertises on Craigslist, they are still bound to the laws and must serve the public equally.
          When a citizen sells something = private
          When a business sells something = public

          D) Define sexual deviants. All I can imagine is a guy dressed up in his wife's underthings and begging her to spank him with a whip. Oh wait, that's perfectly "normal," right?

  • Red

    What next? Is the government going to force me to let non-whites and non-Christians in my store? The NERVE of those nasty liberals! I should be able to be as ignorant, imbecilic and backward as I want! Now leave me alone with my guns and my Bible.

  • Whatever

    This state and their stupid liberlism democratic ways. I love the area, but can't stand the politics. The gay community is becoming like a mobster and just as bad as the public that supposably tried to oppress them. Always out to make a statement, and heaven forbid that anyone have an opinion against it because then they are close minded, redneck, bible loving, gun loving, ignorant republicans. Pfffttt… whatever. Seriously, what do they really have to prove? I mean really, their hands are just as dirty as every one else's now. And even though it may not be the majority of them causing the grief, the portion of them out there that are causing havoc and getting all the media attention, well shame on you. And shame on the state for spending our tax dollars in this manner. Dont we have more important things to put the money towards to make a better quality of living in the beautiful puget sound??

  • guest

    I guess as small business owners who cannot afford the lawsuit we have to remember to say- I'm sorry, I'm just too busy, try xyz shop down the street. It's a shame we would be prosecuted for standing up for our beliefs against sexual PERVERSION!

  • dhsea

    Barronelle Stutzman spoke before thinking. She is in the wrong and now she's going to have to go through the legal process. She's not going to change her views over this, so next time keep your mouth shut, point to the sign in your store "We reserve the the right to refuse service to anyone" and ask them to leave. Bad for business? Certainly. Bad karma? Oh yes. Legal? Yes.

    • Redeemed

      dhsea,

      If there were such thing as karma, you and I wouldn't be here, we are by the grace of a loving creator who has given us the free will to choose

  • MJ Miller

    I knew the homosexual community would act up with the marriage issue. They do not want equal marriage rights but rather they want to force all people to accept the way they choose to have sex. They want to force their views, their religion etc on everyone. Why should the religious practice of homosexuality take precedence over others? Homosexuals need to be tolerant and respectful of others; not bullies and shove their views on the rest of society.

    • sevenaces

      I'm not sure what happened at the last wedding you went to.

      I'm pretty sure the grooms weren't planning on getting down in the middle of the reception and likely didn't ask the florist for a threesome (safe bet she isn't their type).

      Your logic is flawed.

      Despite the origin of the word, homosexuality isn't defined by who you have sex with. It is defined by attraction and preference.

  • guest

    pretty soon the sexual perverts are going to be like african americans in as much as whenever someone disagrees with them they scream discrimination (racism in this example) whether or not it really is.

  • alessandrareflect

    "Justin D. Bristol, attorney for Stutzman, says the case is about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, not discrimination."

    He is totally right. Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion cannot co-exist or even exist in a society where liberals are in power and where homosexuality is normalized.

    If a NAMBLA member wanted to buy flowers to send to his targeted kids, would the florist have to provide the service? What if a KKK member wanted flowers for their meeting? Or a father who wanted to marry his adult daughter?

    People with a homosexuality problem need to investigate why they have developed their problem and resolve it, instead of wanting to shove their homosexuality problems down society's throat.

    The State is forcing her to participate in the promotion of an ideology that is harmful and with which she disagrees. Yet another layer of the nasty state coercion involved in this case.

    • sevenaces

      NAMBLA and KKK members are not protected classes. And it is illegal for a father to marry his daughter. Your examples fail.

      This IS about discrimination. In fact, it's a classic case.

  • TacomaLeroy

    Since pot is now legal I take it the state AG must be bored enough to start persecuting Christians. So, according to his logic a gun shop could be prosecuted if they do not want to sell a gun to some one of a faith who wants to participate in jihad. When you live in a country that denies you your right to free speech or demands that you do things AGAINST your religious beliefs then you are NO LONGER FREE!!!

  • guest

    “As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a statement. A little man who got elected because his opponent was viewed as possibly conservative.
    Here's the truth: As anyone who has worked in either law enforcement or any of the legal profession knows – resources are virtually always limited and so it is accepted that some things will be prosecuted and some will not be prosecuted. The primary determining factor as to what will be prosecuted or essentially ignored is the agendas of the people who we generally elect or otherwise hire to run the show.

    So, in this case – it's quite clear who's on top and who's on the bottom – no pun intended. we got what the minority of counties in this state elected and it goes to show who has the 'power' in this state – which is rather easily enforced due to a large population of people who cower at the thought of seeming judgmental. Unfortunately, all of us – including our kids – are together in this hand basket and I think you know what that means. Liberals, being quite human, are very quick to become the oppressors when in power.