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Judge Rules Homophobic Washington Florist May Be Held Personally Responsible for Discriminating Against Gay Customer

Stuzman

A judge has ruled that the state of Washington has the authority to bring a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stuzman, a Richland florist who is being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a longtime gay customer's 2013 wedding because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ." The judge also ruled Stutzman can be held personally liable for discriminating against the gay customer.

The AP reports:

The judge still has two more motions to rule on in the lawsuit, including whether the facts in the case show the florist violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

The Washington attorney general is asking for a permanent injunction requiring Stutzman and her shop to comply with the consumer protection law.

Stuzman, with the help of the anti-gay Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, is countersuing the state saying that she's the one being discriminated against and that the state Constitution protects her "faith convictions".


Washington State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Against Anti-gay Florist Barronelle Stutzman

Stutzman

In 2013 Baronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, turned away gay couple Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll - refusing their business for their upcoming wedding. Stutzman claimed she was exercising her religious liberties in refusing the couple service, but the state of Washington asserted she was in violation of consumer protection laws. Benton County Supreme Court Judge Alex Ekstrom heard two summary motions in the state’s case against Stutzman this past Friday.

“When it comes to running a business you cannot discriminate against someone based on their religion, based on their race, based on their age, or in this case, based on their sexual orientation,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “And unfortunately, that’s what [Stutzman] did here.”

Stutzman is currently awaiting trial for another suit filed on behalf of Freed and Ingersoll by the ACLU. Should Washington win in its suit against her, she could potentially be responsible for a $2,000 fine as well as covering attorney’s fees.


Washington Florist Barronelle Stutzman Countersues State for Discriminating Against Her Religious Discrimination

Stuzman

Another lawsuit has been flung in the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a longtime gay customer's wedding because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ."

The couple who were discriminated against and the ACLU, as well as the state attorney general are suing Stutzman in two separate lawsuits, and now she's countersuing the state, KING5 reports:

The Alliance Defending Freedom issued a statement Thursday, saying it is representing Stutzman in the countersuit. It says Stutzman has employed people who identify as homosexual. Despite this, she feels she’s being discriminated.

“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions,” said Alliance Senior Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs. It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”

The countersuit argues that the state Constitution protects Stutzman.


WA Lawmaker's Office: 'Gay People Can Grow Their Own Food' if Christian Store Owners Refuse to Serve Them

The office of Washington lawmaker Mike Hewitt, the co-sponsor of SB 5927, a bill that would amend our anti-discrimination laws to allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians because of their "sincerely held religious beliefs," is handing out some interesting advice to gay constituents calling in with concerns about the bill:

Hewitt"Well, gay people can just grow their own food."

That's what one staffer told Slog reader Jay Castro on Friday.

Reports Anna Minard at Slog:

When Castro then asked the male staffer his name, he refused to identify himself, reportedly responding, "I don't have to tell you that," then, "Don't call here again," and hanging up the phone. This happened at around 11:00 this morning.

About an hour after Castro's call, I called Hewitt's office myself to find out if—and more importantly why—government staffers are telling gay people to "grow their own food" if straight Christians don't want to sell them groceries. My conversation was brief, to say the least. When I asked about the bill, the male staffer who answered the phone immediately directed me to a spokesperson for the state Republicans. When I clarified that I was calling to ask about Hewitt's sponsorship of the bill in particular, he said he had no comment.

The bill is not expected to pass but is getting attention because of the case of florist Barronelle Stuzman.


Homophobic Washington Florist Barronelle Stuzman Faces Second Lawsuit Threat

Stuzman

Yesterday I reported that Barronelle Stuzman, the homophobic Washington state florist who told a gay longtime customer that she would not do his wedding because of her relationship with Jesus, was being sued by the Attorney General for discrimination.

Stuzman now faces the threat of a second lawsuit from the gay couple she discriminated against and the ACLU, Slog's Dominic Holden reports:

Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed's lawyers, working with the legal powerhouse at the ACLU of Washington, sent a letter today to Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman saying she has two options: (1) She can vow to never again discriminate in her services for gay people, write an apology letter to be published in the Tri-City Herald, and contribute $5,000 to a local LGBT youth center, or (2) she can get sued for violating the Washington State Civil Rights Act...

..."Your refusal to sell flowers to Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed for their wedding has hurt them very deeply. It is a disturbing reminder of the history of discrimination and disparate treatment that they and other gay men and women have experienced over the years," write the couple's lawyers at the firm Hillis, Clark, Martin, and Petersen, who then add more sharply, "More to the point of this letter, your conduct was a violation of Washington law."

Stuzman and her bigotry have shown no signs of giving in.


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