Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Washington: Florist being sued for discriminating against gay couple

So, here's how I got the story:

A couple of months ago, Baronelle Stuzman, a Washington state florist, told longtime customers, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, that she refused to do business with them — or "participate in the wedding," as she called it — because she believed as a Christian "that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Freed, 43, pointed out that they never asked her to "participate" in their wedding — just to sell them flowers FOR their wedding. The couple has been buying flowers from the shop for nine years.

In any case, Stuzman hugged her gay customer and merrily went on her way.

Now, she's now being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the SeattlePI reports:

Ferguson said he sent a March 28 letter to owner Barronelle Stutzman asking her to reconsider and supply flowers to customer Robert Ingersoll.  Through an attorney, Stutzman declined to change her position.

“As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” said Ferguson.  “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.”

The AG's office s asking that a $2,000 fine be imposed for every violation in a complaint filed in Benton County Superior Court.

I think it's important to reiterate that this legal action is not about marriage equality.   The law being cited and sued under, the Consumer Protection Act, was passed years before Washington's recent marriage equality law.  The same suit could be filed if someone decided they didn't want to serve African Americans or Catholics.

Of course, the anti-marriage equality folks are already touting this as a "gay marriage" issue.

From the National Organization for Marriage: "Like clockwork, those who disagree with gay marriage are being fined and forced out of the public square -- by the state-imposed redefinition of marriage."

And from Tony Perkins at Family Research Council:

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