Washington Attorney General Sues Florist Who Refused To Provide Flowers For Gay Wedding

250px-Cakeinwhitesatin-1451px-White_and_green_floral_spray_wedding_decorWashington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, after she refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding. I have been writing about the tension between free exercise rights and anti-discrimination laws — a subject that I discussed at the conference this week at the Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies. This is now an issue that is arising with greater regularity, including conflicts over wedding cakes and other items.

Ferguson is acting under provisions of the state’s Consumer Protection Act that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and is seeking an injunction requiring the florist to comply with the law. He is also demanding a fine of $2,000 for each violation.

The case involves the refusal to serve customer Robert Ingersoll. Stutzman insists that her religion barred such work. She described the scene: “He [Ingersoll] said he decided to get married and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story.”

However, the Attorney General says that the standard is clear: “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.” Advocates of such enforcement note that we long ago stopped businesses from refusing to serve people due to their race and that this is merely an alternative form of discrimination.

Recently, a same-sex couple sued over an Oregon bakery’s refusal to make a cake for a same-sex couple.

The question is whether anti-discrimination laws are cutting into free exercise and first amendment rights for religious individuals, particularly those who believe that they are engaged in a form of expression or art in the preparation of flowers or cakes. These types of expressive acts may be distinguishable from other public accommodation cases like hotels or restaurants. Even though the same religious objections can be made by an evangelical Christian hotel owner, the flower and cake makers can claim that they are engaged in a more expressive form of product. It is, in my view, a difficult question because I do not see how anti-discrimination laws could not be used to negate a wide array of expressive activities.

I have long been a critic of the Bob Jones line of cases on tax exemption. I have long held the view that we took the wrong path in dealing with not-for-profit organizations, particularly in such cases as Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983). We need to re-examine how anti-discrimination laws are encroaching upon religious organizations to give free exercise more breathing space in our society — a position I discussed in a book with other authors.

I find these more recent cases more difficult than the tax exemption cases. I find the analogy to race discrimination in public accommodation to be compelling. I have also been a long supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage. However, I have serious reservations over the impact on free exercise in an area of core religious beliefs. What do you think?

Source: Seattle Times

257 thoughts on “Washington Attorney General Sues Florist Who Refused To Provide Flowers For Gay Wedding”

  1. “How would yours or any other hetero marriage be harmed by animals getting married?”
    David might be right. Some might have an objection to animals marrying, but just like the homophobic persons who object to gay marriage, they too might change their minds when they see the light.


    As you can see here, each culture has a different idea of marriage: the concept of a Shotgun Marriage with this culture is the opposite of America’s.

  2. “you have no understanding of the premises used in logical deductions or inductions.”


    That is unadulterated BS. How do you think I make my living? You didn’t know that psychological profiling in crime cases is what I do, and have been doing for four decades. I am a professional at this. You are the amateur, and not a very good one at that. You have succeeded in pissing me off with your smug self-righteousness, and as Gene and Mespo both know, that takes some doing. And don’t try to play the victim here. I see that kind of game playing on almost a daily basis, and it doesn’t work on me.

  3. David, we get it. I do indeed understand that you will not personally be harmed by gay people getting married. I also understand that you clutch your religious prejudices close to you, to the point you would deny other people the joy of marriage you enjoy for yourself. Then there are the economic and social perks that go with marriage. The ability to file a joint tax return, to be able to claim the body of your deceased life partner, to visit in the hospital, or not have your spouse deported after living here and contributing to the economy for an entire working career.

    David, we get it. All of us who have commented here understand you are a bigoted, socially blinded, egotistical, solopsist, hypocritical homophobe. You try to argue law with lawyers who have graduated from some of the top law schools in the country. You try to debate logic with people who are actually trained logicians.That is hubris, David. Pure hubris.

    You say, ” Someone will just make fun of me, and in a way, it is kind of like telling a joke that nobody gets. Sometimes it is better to just walk away.”

    You are right. When you make stupid and/or credulity straining statements, you will be mocked, and rightly so. Just as Rick Santorum and George Allen were mocked for their stupid statements. As for jokes, jokes are funny. I have studied the psychology of humor for decades. What you said was not humor, it was quite something else. Your “joke” was really a mean spirited comment, and when busted on it, you try to make excuses. Rather like a playground bully who pushes a little kid down and tries to excuse it by claming it was all just a joke.

    This country was not founded on religion, it was founded as a secular nation. Religion has no place in the government’s house, just as the government has no place in the religious marketplace. Your views of things like “natural law” and “rational understanding” have no basis in the law or the Constitution with one exception.. As I pointed out in an earlier post, “rational understanding” applies in cases of legal competency, whether civil or criminal. Are you aware that philosophers and cognitive psychologists have been debating the meaning of “understanding” for centuries? No one has been able to define the word yet.

    Your lack of empathy and understanding of others is actually embarrassing. David, I was married for 55 years. When I try to imagine what it would be like for a gay couple to be together that long and have to live as second class citizens with the law itself stacked against us, I weep for the hardened souls of people like you. Do you know that even after 55 years, her biological family could have legally forbidden me to see her while in Hospice care, or held her as her life slipped away? They could have, and it happens every day in this counry, literally. Because of laws passed and supported by people like you.

    People like you that would not be harmed in the slightest by letting people who love each other and are committed get married. It does not seem to bother you in the slightest to harm them in ways you cannot even imagine.

    Gandhi said once that he rather liked that Jesus fellow, but did not care much for his followers.

    It’s really about the icky sex, isn’t it?

    1. OS- Just for the record, I never said it was a joke. It wasn’t. The explaining of a bad joke was an analogy. I had a point involving unspoken premises and how questions appear absurd because of those premises. As with most of our discussion, you have no understanding of the premises used in logical deductions or inductions. I agree with probably 80% of what you say, but your perception of how I think or why I think a certain way is way off base. You like to comfort yourself with hate speech toward me while claiming that I am the one who hates. It is too bad we can’t patiently communicate with each other in a civil way. I guess that is why lawyers have such a bad reputation in society these days and are the butt of many loathsome jokes. I will refrain from telling one now, as tempting as it might be. 🙂 Go ahead and have the last word if you like.

  4. Yep. I love it when people walk out on a spurious appeal to emotion stacked on an argument ad absurdum and some post hoc ergo propter hoc. Marriage will be abolished. Really? They think it makes the look like a bruised and battered but still heroic Gary Cooper walking off into the sunset, but in reality it just makes them look like chump with no argument.
    Culture warriors.
    So predictable.

  5. I had to chuckle. Before I decided to let it ride until David answers, I started a response that began “I don’t think you know what natural law means either.” GMTA strikes again. :mrgreen:

  6. David:

    “If the laws are not defined properly, societal chaos and possibly even war will result. History has taught us this.”


    I am aware that history teaches no such thing. History teaches that persons who feel persecuted, if equipped with enough resources, will fight. They pay no heed to any improperly or properly defined law rather they respond to fear. Had the South been properly and definitively advised that Lincoln would immediately have issued the Emancipation Proclamation upon his inauguration, the rebellion would have started earlier not later despite the proper definition of what laws he intended to promote. Also, the quite proper and intricate definitions of the law contained in the Treaty of Versailles did nothing to quell Hitler. Indeed they may have created him. There are lots more counter-examples but to what end?

  7. Gene H:

    Right you are and we ought to again define what natural law is exactly. Natural law is not some arbitrary law handed down from some divine creator or some temporal king. It is the law of reason gleaned from man’s interactions with nature. Cicero –as he often did — said it best: “There is in fact a true law— namely right reason—which is in accordance with nature, applies to all men, and is unchangeable and eternal.” While we can debate its origins as we debate the universe’s origins we cannot debate its foundation as rational human thought.

  8. Be careful Mespo! You could get in trouble answering that question!!

  9. What Mespo and Elaine said. The only reason against gay marriages are religious tenets that not all of us agree with.
    Good luck waiting for your answer. 🙂

  10. Elaine M:
    ” Have you dated a lot of dogs in your life?”


    After consultation with my local barkeep and the one at my university, I refuse to answer that question on the grounds it might incriminate me.

Comments are closed.