RICHLAND Wash. — A flower shop in Washington state has refused to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple, who had been using her services for years, because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, of Kennewick, Wash., said that Barronelle Stuzman, the owner of Arelene’s Flowers in Richland, Wash., told them she could not provide services for their wedding because marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
“Rob came into the store and was talking about getting married. I told him because of my relationship with Jesus Christ that I couldn’t do his wedding,” said Stuzman, who also posted her statement on Facebook.
Ingersoll said he respects Stuzman’s views, but is shocked the subject never came up in the nine years that he and his partner have been customers at the store, even sending flowers to each other.
“We hire gay people. I have friends that are gay, that wasn’t the issue. The issue is that I just didn’t want to participate in the marriage,” she said.
Ingersoll said he is not yet sure what he’ll do in the future, and has been contacted by several attorneys including the ACLU.
Article continues belowA spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office told the Tri-City Herald that Washington state law doesn’t allow discrimination based on sexual orientation as long as the same service is provided to a straight couple.
“Washington’s anti-discrimination law would not allow the florist to discriminate against the same-sex couple,” the office said in a statement. “If they sell wedding flowers to any other opposite sex couple, they must sell flowers to a same-sex couple.”
Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state in December after voters approved a November ballot referendum that affirmed a marriage equality bill passed by the Legislature in February 2012 and signed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The marriage equality law exempts religious organizations from having to perform same-sex weddings, but doesn’t allow the same exemptions for businesses.