After being shut down this week by the Washington Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision, florist Barronelle Stutzman is not giving up her fight to refuse service to same-sex couples.
Even though she previously served Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, Stutzman — the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland — refused to provide bouquets for their 2013 wedding. Stutzman cited "my relationship with Jesus Christ" as the reason for denying service, BuzzFeed reports.
The couple sued with the help of the state's attorney general, citing Washington's consumer protection act, which doesn't allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT patrons. A lower court sided with the couple in 2015, ordering her to cease discriminating and pay a $1,000 fine. The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which decisively upheld the lower court's ruling this week. The judges' unanimous ruling defended laws protecting LGBT consumers because the state has a "compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations."
Stutzman remains undettered, promising to take her battle to the U.S. Supreme Court. Represented by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom, Stutzman believes her religious beliefs exempt her from her state's antidiscrimination laws. That argument is being weaponized across the country, and will likely make its way to the Supreme Court. In fact, Stutzman's lawyers at the ADF are challenging numerous LGBT nondiscrimination laws with the same defense.
“The Court’s ruling makes clear that freedom of religion is already profoundly protected in our nation — as it should be — and, at the same time, that it can’t be used as an excuse to treat same-sex couples and others differently under the law,” Kasey Suffredini, Freedom for All Americans’ chief program officer, said in a statement.
“Standing up and speaking out when you face discrimination can be daunting. We owe a great deal to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, the couple at the heart of this case, for sharing their story. No one would ever want to be denied service or treated unfairly simply because of who they are, and this ruling is an important addition to the growing legal precedent that says anti-LGBT discrimination is unacceptable.”