Judge Rules Arlene’s Flowers Broke Consumer Protection Law
Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled Wednesday Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman broke Washington's Consumer Protection Law in refusing to provide floral services to a same-sex couple due to her religious beliefs.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement about Ekstrom's ruling:
"The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washingtonians have enacted laws recognizing equality for same-sex couples, and I will continue to vigorously uphold these laws. I appreciate the judge’s decision and am very proud of my team’s hard work to stop this unlawful discrimination.”
Stutzman refused to provide the floral services because of her religious beliefs in not supporting same-sex marriage. The client had been a long-time customer of her store. She suggested other floral service shops, but the client insisted on using Arlene's. Ferguson filed suit against Stutzman and in January Judge Ekstrom ruled that Stutzman herself can be sued.
Stutzman's attorneys have argued religious freedom is expression protected by the constitution. Her attorney says forcing her to provide her services is akin to forcing a musician to compose a piece of music for such a wedding or event they may not believe in.
The trial is slated for March of this year.