State files suit against florist for refusing to sell flowers for gay wedding

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 9:02am

Olympia, WA (KCPQ) -- State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts of Richland, Wash., for refusing to provide wedding flowers for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

The Attorney General's Office said that on March 1, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers, refused to provide wedding flowers to longtime customer Robert Ingersoll based on her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Ferguson sent a letter to Stutzman on March 28 requesting she reconsider her position and sign an agreement indicating her intention to comply with Washington laws. Stutzman's attorneys responded Monday and said that Stutzman would challenge any state action to enforce the law.

"As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington," Ferguson said in a news release. "Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of 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."

In a complaint filed in Benton County Superior Court Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office seeks a permanent injunction requiring Arlene's Flowers to comply with the state's consumer protection laws. The state also seeks $2,000 in fines for every violation of the law.

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