RICHLAND, WA — (11-21-21) — Last Thursday a settlement was reached after a nearly decade-old case of a Christian flower shop owner who refused service to a gay couple in Washington state.
The Christian flower shop owner refused to provide the ga couple flowers for their wedding despite Washington state’s anti-discrimination laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Barronelle Stutzman (pictured below), the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland last July, leaving in tact a lower court’s ruling against the flower shop owner.
Stutzman withdrew her petition Thursday and settled with Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed for $5,000.
“We took on this case because we were worried about the harm being turned away would cause LGBTQ people,” the couple said in a statement. “We are glad the Washington Supreme Court rulings will stay in place to ensure that same-sex couples are protected from discrimination and should be served by businesses like anyone else. It was painful to be turned away and we are thankful that this long journey for us is finally over.”
The case dates to 2013, when Barronelle Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the couple’s wedding. She said it would violate her Southern Baptist beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Using an argument similar to the famous Colorado baker Jack Phillips in the 2018 Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Stutzman’s attorneys argued that their client’s floral arrangements are “Works of art and that having to create them for same-sex weddings would trample on her freedom of expression.”
A lower court ruled in 2015 that Stutzman broke a Washington law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation but she was not satisfied with that ruling and petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to hear the case.
The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed in 2017 and then again in 2019, finding that selling flowers for a wedding “does not inherently express a message about that wedding.”
Ingersoll and Freed stated that they will be donating the $5,000 settlement to a local chapter of PFLAG, an LGBTQ advocacy group. They also stated that they are going to match the settlement donation bringing its grand total to $10,000 for the local PFLAG chapter.
(Photo Courtesy of NBC News)
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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