The owner of a flower shop in Washington who denied service to a gay couple is being sued for violating the state’s consumer protection laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. What makes this lawsuit very different is the person behind it: None other than State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. 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.”
Barronelle Stutzman, who owns Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, earned herself headlines last month after she turned down a request from longtime customer Rob Ingersoll to provide flowers for his wedding because Ingersoll is gay.
“When it came to doing his wedding, I said, ‘I could not do it because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,'” she wrote on the store’s Facebook page.
This was Stutzman’s first denial of service in her 37 years as a florist.
“It really hurt because it was somebody I knew,” said Ingersoll, who had been coming to Arlene’s on a regular basis for nine years.