Legal proceedings that have rumbled on for nearly a decade appear to have finally come to an end after a Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding dropped her Supreme Court appeal.
Barronelle Stutzman, 77, who ran Arlene’s Flowers, turned down the request for the flowers from fiancés Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll back in 2013. She claimed it went against her religious convictions.
A lengthy legal battle ensued, with Stutzman being backed by the conservative legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom.
Freed and Ingersoll said they had been discriminated against because of their sexuality, which went against state law. Washington Supreme Court agreed, prompting Stutzman to lodge an appeal with the US Supreme Court.
That appeal was denied in July, but Stutzman’s lawyers asked for the court to reconsider.
This week, Alliance Defending Freedom said Stutzman had reached an agreement with the couple and will pay them $5,000 in damages.
ADF said in a statement, ”A settlement agreement secured by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys with the ACLU ends a lawsuit brought against floral artist Barronelle Stutzman nearly a decade ago without forcing her to act against her religious beliefs or to pay potentially ruinous attorneys’ fees—a threat she has endured for years.
“Stutzman has chosen to retire so her beloved employees can run her business, Arlene’s Flowers. She will withdraw a pending petition for rehearing at the U.S. Supreme Court and make a payment of only $5,000 to the two men who sued her.”
Stutzman, a great grandmother, included her own statement. She said she’d been friends with Rob Ingersoll and provided flowers for him previous to 2013, but she “drew a line” when asked to provide flowers for his wedding to another man.
“What followed were lawsuits filed against me and a concerted effort to either force me to change my religious beliefs or pay a devastating price for believing them including being threatened with the loss of my home, my business, and my life savings.”
According to CNN, Freed and Ingersoll says they’re going to donate the $5,000 to a local chapter of LGBTQ-advocacy group PFLAG, along with a further $5,000 of their own money.
In a statement issued by ACLU, Freed and Ingersoll said: “We took on this case because we were worried about the harm being turned away would cause LGBTQ people. 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.
“We are also pleased to support our local PFLAG’s work to support LGBTQ people in the Tri-Cities area. It was painful to be turned away and we are thankful that this long journey for us is finally over.”