OLYMPIA — A Benton County Superior Court ruling today held that a Richland florist violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers in 2013.
In April 2013, the Attorney General’s Office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers and its owner and operator, Barronelle Stutzman, for refusing to provide flowers to customer Robert Ingersoll for his wedding to his husband, Curt Freed.
Today Judge Alex Ekstrom granted the state’s motion for summary judgment, meaning the case will not have to go to trial.
“The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washingtonians have enacted laws recognizing equality for same-sex couples, and I will continue to vigorously uphold these laws. I appreciate the judge’s decision and am very proud of my team’s hard work to stop this unlawful discrimination.”
Before filing the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office had sent a letter to Stutzman asking her to comply with Washington law, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, the Attorney General’s Office would not have filed suit, and Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.
The judge's ruling is available here.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov