Washington State Supreme Court To Hear Gay Marriage Related Case

Nov 14, 2016

The case of a florist who refused to serve her customers is going before the Washington Supreme Court tomorrow. The lawsuit concerns a gay couple who wanted flowers for their wedding.

Barronelle Stutzman owns Arlene's Flowers in Richland. She says providing flowers for the wedding would have violated her religious freedoms. Last year a Benton County Superior Court judge said her actions violated anti-discrimination law in Washington. The judge ruled that she could no longer refuse customers based on their sexual orientation. Stutzman appealed to the Washington Supreme Court.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson will argue on behalf of the gay couple.

"You cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or age, or gender," Ferguson said. "But the state has added sexual orientation as a protected class just like those other classifications, so a restaurant owner can no sooner refuse service to a gay person because they're gay than to me because I'm Catholic."

Ferguson will ask the court to rule, like the judge before, that Stutzman was discriminating. Stutzman's attorneys have said she was exercising her right to free speech.

The court will hear this case at Bellevue College tomorrow. The state Supreme Court takes certain cases on the road every year to let communities see the court in action. The justices are expected to rule in several months.

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