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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 01
Attorney General urges WA State Supreme Court to uphold anti-discrimination ruling in Arlene's Flowers case
Section One
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Attorney General urges WA State Supreme Court to uphold anti-discrimination ruling in Arlene's Flowers case

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a brief with the Washington State Supreme Court on December 23 urging the justices to uphold a Benton County Superior Court decision ordering a Richland florist to stop discriminating against Gay and Lesbian customers seeking flowers for their weddings.

In a February 18, 2015 ruling, the Superior Court found that Arlene's Flowers, and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, violated the state Consumer Protection Act by refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex couple's wedding.

'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.'

On March 27, the Superior Court permanently enjoined the defendants from discriminating against any person because of his or her sexual orientation. The court also imposed a $1,000 penalty and ordered the defendants to pay the Attorney General's Office $1 in costs and attorney fees, the amount the Attorney General requested.

Case background
In April 2013, the Attorney General's Office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers and Stutzman for refusing to provide flowers to customer Robert Ingersoll for his wedding to his husband, Curt Freed.

Before filing the lawsuit, the Attorney General's Office sent a letter to Stutzman asking her to comply with Washington law, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, the Attorney General's Office would not have filed suit, and Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled whether it will hear the case or send the appeal to the intermediate Court of Appeals. That decision is expected in the next few months.

Courtesy of the Washington State Attorney General's Office

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