Florist who rejected same-sex wedding job broke Washington law, judge rules

LA Times 18 February 2015
A Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, citing religious reasons, violated consumer protection laws, a judge ruled Wednesday..

The lawsuit, filed in 2013 by Washington Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, centered on Arlene’s Flowers, a shop in eastern Washington that refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, with the owner telling a longtime customer that it was “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The attorney general argued that the business had violated state consumer protection laws, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington since 2012.

In a 60-page opinion, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom said Barronelle Stutzman’s actions became illegal the day voters passed a referendum legalizing gay marriage.

Stutzman had argued that the tenets of her “Southern Baptist tradition” precluded her from arranging flowers for same-sex weddings, or to allow any of her employees to do so.

“Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” the judge wrote.

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