Thursday, March 5, 2015

Washington AG's statement on Barronelle Stutzman/Arlene's Flowers

Barronelle Stutzman
Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, has issued a statement on the Barronelle Stutzman matter. The full decision by the judge makes for interesting reading. It is very thorough. Elane Photography v. Willock serves as precedent. ADF also represented Elane Photography. You may recall that was the New Mexico photographer who refused to take pictures of a lesbian commitment ceremony. That made its way through the courts until the Supreme Court declined to hear the case about a year ago.

Note that only 3% of Stutzman's business involves weddings. She could opt out with little effect. I am increasingly convinced after reading the opinion which cites some of the testimony that Stutzman was looking for a same-sex wedding that she could decline in order to be in exactly the position she is in. When Washington became an equality state, ADF likely trolled wedding vendors, giving them an opportunity to be martyrs for the faith. AG Ferguson writes:

A Benton County Superior Court judge has ruled that a Richland florist violated our state’s Consumer Protection Act by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers.

My office filed the lawsuit in 2013 against Arlene’s Flowers and its owner and operator, Barronelle Stutzman for discrimination. In our state, businesses that choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex must provide the same service to same-sex couples.

Approximately 3 percent of Arlene’s Flowers’s business involves the sale of wedding flowers. If the florist wants to continue this line of business, it must sell to all couples in Washington.

My goal in this case has always been to stop discrimination in the marketplace.

Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.

The day after the court’s ruling, I offered to settle this matter for a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation. Ms. Stutzman declined that offer and plans to appeal.

I appreciate the judge’s decision, and will continue working to uphold laws that protect marriage equality in Washington.

The judge's ruling is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be civil and do NOT link to anti-gay sites!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.