Arlene’s Flowers Countersues Washington’s Attorney General
Represented by the national group Alliance for Defending Freedom, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland has filed a countersuit against Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The suit is in response to the AG office filing a case against Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman for declining to provide floral services to long-time customers for their same-sex wedding on moral grounds.
The Alliance said in a news release:
“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. 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 Alliance says the state constitution protects Stutzman's rights. Under Washington law, religious organizations are protected from having to perform ceremonies. Under the Consumer Protection Law, or anti-discrimination law, sexual orientation is protected. The law was expanded to include that clause in 2006.
Stutzman's attorneys are also arguing her First Amendment-protected freedom of speech shields her, much same as a musician or other artist. The Alliance argues she should no more have to provide flowers for such a wedding as would an artist be forced to compose music for such an event.
Ferguson is seeking a permanent injunction against Arlene's Flowers that would prevent her from refusing service to same-sex couples, as well as over $2,000 in fines.