The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled that a florist violated anti-discrimination laws when she refused to create flower arrangements for a homosexual couple. This is the second time that the state Supreme Court has ruled against this woman in this case.
What is this case?
In 2013, Barronelle Stutzman, a great-grandmother and the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland refused to create flower arrangements for the same-sex wedding of a longtime customer. Stutzman argued that her actions were protected under the First Amendment. She said that making the arrangements, or even having her staff make them, would violate her Christian religious beliefs.
The Washington state attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union sued Stutzman for discrimination in the Benton County Superior Court, and the state Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs against Stutzman.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court sent this case back to the state Supreme Court in Washington.
The reason was because just a few weeks earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who had refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The high court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown “clear and impermissible hostility” toward the “sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.” However, the court specified that their ruling was narrow and focused only on Phillips’ situation.
The U.S. Supreme Court justices said that because they had ruled in favor of Phillips, the Washington court should reconsider the Stutzman case.
On Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Masterpiece case was not enough to change its mind.
In its decision, the court said that it had “painstakingly reviewed the record for any sign of intolerance” by either itself or the Benton County Superior Court. It also said that creating flower arrangements for a gay wedding did not “violate [Stutzman’s] right to free exercise under either the First Amendment or Article I section 11 because it is a neutral generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led the case against Stutzman, called the ruling “a complete and total victory for civil rights here in Washington state.”
Stutzman plans to try to get the Supreme Court to reconsider her case.