By Casey Harper – 3/3/2016 – DCNF
The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a grandma florist being sued for refusing to service a gay wedding.
The court decided Wednesday it would hear the case of Barronelle Stutzman, who is being sued by a same-sex couple. Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, had done floral arrangements for gay customers in the past, including the couple suing her. When this couple asked for Stutzman’s services for their wedding in 2013, she refused and referred them to a different florist who would do the wedding. She cited her religious convictions as the reason for her refusal.
The same-sex couple, now teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union, sued her and won. But lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group representing Stutzman, filed an appeal in April with the Washington State Supreme Court. Now the high court will hear the case.
“If all he’d asked for were prearranged flowers, I’d gladly have provided them,” Stutzman said in an editorial in the Seattle Times in December. “If the celebration were for his partner’s birthday, I’d have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance.”
The case could go to the Supreme Court, which would resolve the dispute of private vendors’ religious objections. Several private wedding vendors have been hit with discrimination suits for refusing to service gay couples. This case or other similar cases, such as the Colorado baker refusing to bake wedding cakes and an Oregon bakery doing the same, could go to the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately decide the issue.
“I want to believe that a state as diverse as Washington, with our long commitment to personal and religious freedoms, would be as willing to honor my right to make those kinds of choices as it is to honor Rob’s right to make his,” Stutzman said in the editorial. “That’s not endorsing a negative thing, as I’ve been accused of doing. It’s promoting good things: reason, fairness and mutual tolerance.”
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