Washington state florist sued again for refusal to service gay wedding

Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:30am EDT
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By Elaine Porterfield

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, in the second legal action accusing the vendor of discrimination.

Florist Barronelle Stutzman already faced a consumer protection lawsuit over the incident filed against her last week by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. She maintained her Christian beliefs prevented her from selling the flowers for the same-sex wedding, according to court papers.

The plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit filed on Thursday are Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state.

The couple were longtime customers of Stutzman's southeast Washington state business, Arlene's Flowers, in Richland, their lawsuit said.

The legal battle follows a move by Washington state voters in November to allow gay marriage, but the ACLU's lawsuit is not based on the legality of same-sex marriage in the state.

Instead, it centers on the state's law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, said Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU of Washington state.

"Everybody is entitled to their own private religious beliefs and the ACLU respects that strongly," Honig said.

"But a business open to the public cannot use religion as a reason to justify discriminating," he said.   Continued...