The owner of a local floral shop in Richland, Washington that refused service to a gay couple last month may have thought “hugging” her clients was “the end of the story,” but everything isn’t coming up roses for state attorney general Bob Ferguson, who filed suit against her yesterday morning.
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, declined the opportunity to make floral arrangements for a loyal customer’s gay wedding in early March, believing it would tarnish her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” Apparently Jesus didn’t mind her creating bouquets and sending love notes on their behalf for the past nine years—she claims same-sex marriage is a different monster entirely.
“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a statement to the press. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”
KWKT reports that, on March 28, Stutzman was asked to reconsider her position in a letter from Ferguson (as if the gay customers would even want to return), and was reminded that her business had failed to comply with Washington state laws. Stutzman’s attorney responded on Monday, claiming that they’re prepared to challenge the state at any cost.
And surprisingly, the old biddy is putting her money where her mouth is. She claims that making floral arrangements for a wedding “is a creative process [that] takes artistic talent. All artists consider what they do to be an expression.”
Furthermore, Stutzman and her attorney are now claiming that her floral shop is a beacon of freedom-of-expression, and the government is attempting to infringe on her “right to free religious exercise” by forcing her to lend her craft to a ceremony she doesn’t agree with.
This old biddy seems to be forgetting that some of the world’s greatest artists didn’t answer to authority because they weren’t running a profitable business under state and federal laws. Artist or not, the “open” sign hanging in her front window should legally welcome all potential customers, not just the ones she thinks are worthy of enjoying her art.