A florist's refusal to provide flower services for a same-sex marriage has been sued by the state's Attorney General.
Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington has been sued...and faces fines for the refusal.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, had been buying flowers from Arleneâ??s for nearly a decade when Ingersoll asked Barronelle Stutzman to provide flowers for their upcoming wedding in September, according to the couple's attorneys.
Stutzman, who declined to comment to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, stated on her Facebook page why she turned them down.
â??When it came to doing his wedding, I said, â??I could not do it because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.â?? He thanked me and said he respected my opinion. We talked and gave each other a hug and he left,â?? she wrote.
Stutzman said she believes â??biblicallyâ?? that marriage is between a man and a woman.
â??I have hired all walks of people in different circumstances, and had the privilege of working with some very talented people that happen to be gay.â??
When he announced the lawsuit Tuesday, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he had sent a letter to Stutzman before filing the suit asking her to reconsider, but she refused through her attorney.
â??As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,â?? Ferguson said. â??If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their wedding, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.â??
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved...sending Stutzman a letter stating it would file a separate civil suit for damages on behalf of the engaged couple unless she agrees to provide flowers without discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, publish a letter of apology in the newspaper and donate $5,000 to a local youth center, in lieu of attorneys' fees.
"Your refusal to sell flowers to Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed for their wedding has hurt them very deeply. It is a disturbing reminder of the history of discrimination and disparate treatment that they and other gay men and women have experienced over the years," ACLU attorney Michael R. Scott said in the letter.
Should the flower shop owner stand her ground and refuse the service? Or should she reconsider, apologize and provide flowers as suggested by the ACLU?