Wash. florist sued by state for refusing flowers for gay wedding - FOX 32 News Chicago

Wash. florist sued by state for refusing to sell flowers for gay wedding

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(WJBK) -

A Washington state florist who refused to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding is now being sued by the state.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges Barronelle Stutzman, owner Of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Wash., violated the state's Consumer Protection Act.

Ferguson says if a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples, then it must provide same sex couples the same product or service.

The small business' Facebook page has quickly become a source of debate on gay marriage and a group has been set up calling for a boycott.

On the page Stutzman posted:

To those who have and do support us, we want to thank you for all your concern and phone calls. Many have requested a place to send financial support to help with legal defense. We have set up a deposit only account with our local Key Bank.

It goes on to provide the bank details.

In a statement posted at the time of the refusal, Stutzman refused to back down on what she called "her conviction."

A post from March 4 reads:

This customer has been in many times and purchased flowers from us. When it came to doing his wedding, I said, "I could not do it because of my relationship with Jesus Christ." He thanked me and said, "He respected my opinion." We talked and gave each other a hug and he left.

Since that day, we have received many comments on same sex marriages. I believe, biblically, that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is my conviction, yours may be different.

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.

I'm sure there are many places you can purchase flowers, if you choose not to purchase them from Arlene's, because of your beliefs, then I certainly understand.

Religious liberty groups in Washington and across the country are voicing their support for the flower shop.

"You may not be a florist, and you may have made a different decision, but liberty is at stake for all of us," said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. "Draw your line in the sand right here."

Backholm is urging supporters to stand with Arlene's Flowers. Lawyers on Stutzman's behalf wrote to the Attorney General making clear she plans to fight the lawsuit.

"Discrimination is not the issue. Although gay marriage may be legal in Washington for the time being, the concept offends Ms. Stutzman and many others in Washington," the letter said.

 

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