A Washington state florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding could face the full brunt of the law after discriminating against the couple because of their sexuality.
According to a local report published by the Tri-City Herald, Barronelle Stuzman in Richland, some there hours south of Seattle, refused service to soon-to-wed Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.
Ingersoll told the local newspaper that “it came as a shock to me because I’ve had a 9-year relationship with Barronelle and have never thought there was a reason that she wouldn’t.”
But the Arlene’s Flower Shop owner believes that her faith is more important than upholding Washington state’s anti-discrimination laws.
She wrote on Facebook that “he said he decided to get married and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
She continued to say that “we hugged each other and he left, and I assumed that was the end of the story.”
For Ingersoll, he was frustrated and “hurt” after having had the long relationship with the shop.
“We laid awake all night Saturday. It was eating at our souls. There was never a question she’d be the one to do our flowers. She does amazing work,” he was quoted as saying.
Stuzman claimed that she was not anti-LGBT and that her shop had in the past hired gay people, but it was the marriage issue that hit her.
“The issue is that I just didn’t want to participate in the marriage.”
Washington voters passed marriage equality in December through a referendum, however, the majority of voters in the Tri-Cities area voted against the measure. Still, it has become law and while exempting religious groups from being forced to perform same-sex weddings, it requires any business to provide equal services to straight and gay people.
A spokesperson for the state Attorney General’s Office told the Tri-City Herald that “Washington law doesn’t allow discrimination based on sexual orientation as long as the same service is provided to a straight couple.
“Washington’s anti-discrimination law would not allow the florist to discriminate against the same-sex couple.
“If they sell wedding flowers to any other opposite sex couple, they must sell flowers to a same-sex couples,” the spokesperson said.