OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) – In a brief filed with the state’s Supreme Court, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson urged the justices to uphold a Benton County Superior Court decision that would force Arlene’s Flowers to stop its alleged discrimination against gay and lesbian customers.
The Superior Court, in a Feb. 18 ruling, found that the Richland florist and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, allegedly refused to provide flowers for a same-sex couple’s wedding, a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act. The court later permanently enjoined the florist shop from discriminating against anyone for sexual orientation.
“As the Superior Court recognized, it is illegal in Washington for a business to offer services to opposite-sex couples yet refuse those same services to same-sex partners,” Ferguson said. “My office will not stand for discrimination, and I am confident that the Supreme Court will agree.”
In April 2013, the attorney general’s office alleged that Arlene’s Flowers had refused to provide flowers to Robert Ingersoll for his wedding to husband Curt Freed. Before the lawsuit, Ferguson’s office sent a letter to Stutzman asking her to comply with the law. Had she complied, the state would not have filed the lawsuit.
The Supreme Court has yet to rule over whether it will hear the case. It could send it to the intermediate court of appeals. The decision is expected in the coming few months.