Judge: Washington florist who refused to sell flowers for gay wedding broke law

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(Photo: thinkprogress.org)

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a florist in Washington state who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated state consumer protection and anti-discrimination law.

In an opinion Wednesday, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments from the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland that her actions were protected by her religious freedom.

He said that while religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected. Courts have long held that lawmakers can prohibit discriminatory conduct, and the judge said florist Barronelle Stutzman broke the law when she refused to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding in 2013.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington welcomed the ruling.

“The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washingtonians have enacted laws recognizing equality for same-sex couples, and I will continue to vigorously uphold these laws. I appreciate the judge’s decision and am very proud of my team’s hard work to stop this unlawful discrimination.”

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  • rswan

    I would sell flowers to them, no problem at all. The can buy flowers and do whatever they want with them.
    But, I do not agree with same sex weddings.

    • vhawk

      Oh my goodness. Yes you’re right jrey. Next thing you know anti-discrimination laws going to make us do business with them colored people. But I tell you, I’m open minded compared to some. Why I even have seating in my restaurant for the lesbians, and sodomites. It’s in the back where no one can see them, but still they are lucky to be able to eat here.

      • Jim E Rotten

        “Next thing you know anti-discrimination laws going to make us do business with them colored people”.

        When criticizing a free market where transactions only occur if they are mutual, please don’t invoke a time in history when the government specifically mandated things like racism. Oh, and if you ran a business and discriminated against folks in the way you’re suggesting, you’d take hits in profit; your choice, your loss. That’s how the market works and how the world should run.

  • Rosie

    Denying services that you would provide to everyone else except to one specific group of people based on your religious beliefs isn’t religious freedom. it’s called bigotry.

  • Lawrence Beerbower

    The law violates the first amendment Right of freedom of religion. It is not a privilege it is a Right which shall not be infringed upon as it is clearly infringed upon here. Looks like the states need to relearn Constitutional law and learn plain English as it is clearly written in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  • Shayne

    Guess they should have a right to refuse service sign then none of this would happen? I applaud the florist for sticking to their beliefs. If this was a black florist refusing to sell to white people, or a Jewish Florist refusing to sell to a muslim couple this wouldn’t be an issue. But as a society we seem to hold homosexuals above all so now it’s considered “against the law.” I just shake my head…

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