Judge rules against florist who refused services for gay couple’s wedding

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

RICHLAND, Wash. — A judge has decided the state of Washington has the authority to bring a consumer protection lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex couple’s wedding.

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom also ruled Wednesday that the owner of the Richland, Wash., flower shop can be held personally liable for violating the Consumer Protection Act.

The state says Barronelle Stutzman and her shop, Arlene’s Flowers, refused to provide flowers and services to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.

Having purchased goods from Arlene’s Flowers on many occasions, Ingersoll says that when he approached Stutzman in March 2013 about providing flowers for his same-sex wedding, Stutzman said she would not sell the couple flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The judge still has two more motions to rule on in the lawsuit, including whether the facts case show the florist violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

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The Washington Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation. It bars businesses from refusing to sell goods, merchandise, and services to any person because of their sexual orientation.

Stutzman’s lawyers say she declined not because of the couple’s sexual orientation, but because of her religious views on marriage.

The state attorney general is asking for a permanent injunction requiring Stutzman and her shop to comply with the consumer protection law.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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