Judge fines Washington florist who refused services for same-sex couple’s wedding

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding was fined $1,000 Friday, plus $1 for court costs and fees.

Benton County Superior Judge Alexander Ekstrom’s ruling gives Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, 60 days to pay the state for her refusal to serve Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed when they sought to buy wedding flowers in 2013.

Stutzman, who had sold flowers to Ingersoll for years, knew he was gay and said when he sought to buy wedding flowers that the marriage went against her beliefs as a Southern Baptist. After they were refused flowers, Ingersoll and Freed went ahead with a smaller wedding than they had planned. They got married in their home with 11 guests and flowers from another florist.

In a February ruling, Ekstrom found that Stutzman’s refusal to provide flowers because of sexual orientation violated Washington’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. Along with the fine, the judge’s ruling also requires that everything Arlene’s Flowers sells to opposite-sex couples has to be available at the same price to same-sex couples.

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Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office requested the fine, said in a statement Friday that the ruling is a reminder of the reach of Washington’s anti-discrimination laws.

“My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination,” Ferguson said. “I’m pleased that today’s ruling clearly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples.”

Before Ferguson’s office filed the consumer-protection lawsuit against Stutzman, it had sent her a letter asking for an agreement to no longer discriminate, which she refused. Ferguson’s statement Friday said the office would not have sued if Stutzman had accepted the agreement.

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