Can Arlenes Flowers in Richland Legally DENY selling Flowers to Lesbians?

Barronelle-Stutzman-gay-seattle-washington

The florist said she couldn’t sell a gay couple flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ,” but Washington state claims she discriminated against them based on their sexual orientation.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the florist who refused to provide wedding flowers to a same-sex couple.

The complaint was filed in Benton County on Tuesday against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland.

The lawsuit is in response to a March 1 incident where she refused service to longtime customer Robert Ingersoll. Stutzman did not return a call Tuesday night seeking comment.

Ferguson had sent a letter on March 28 asking her to comply with the law, but said Stutzman’s attorneys responded Monday saying she would challenge any state action to enforce the law. Washington state voters upheld a same-sex marriage law in November, and the law took effect in December.

The state’s anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2006 to include sexual orientation.

Ferguson seeks a permanent injunction requiring the store to comply with the state’s consumer protection laws and seeks at least $2,000 in fines.

While garnering just above two hundred likes, a Facebook page criticizing Stutzman’s actions has been created since she refused the shop’s services to Ingersoll on March 1, calling for a boycott of Arlene’s Flowers.

“The bottom line is that she broke the law,” wrote user Laura J. Speaker. “Personally she can be anti gay marriage, etc., all she wants but from a business standpoint she can’t in the state of Washington. Period.”   Read More  at MSN

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