State Sues Florist Over Refusing Service for Gay Wedding

Photo Credit: DeanieMichelleEvents

The state attorney general has filed a lawsuit in Benton County Superior Court against a Richland florist who refused to provide flowers for the wedding of longtime gay customers, citing her religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

The state’s suit against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, came just days after the Attorney General’s Office wrote to ask that Stutzman reconsider her position and agree to comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

JD Bristol, attorney for Arlene’s, said his client has many customers and employees who are gay and the claim that she is “discriminating on the basis on sexual orientation is nonsense.”

“This is about gay marriage, it’s not about a person being gay,” Bristol said. “She has a conscientious objection to homosexual marriage, not homosexuality. It violates her conscience.”

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