WA Attorney General Replies to Newstalk 870 About Arlene’s Flowers
We posed a few questions to the Washington State Attorney General’s office about the Arlene’s Flowers case.
When the office filed its discrimination suit against Arlene’s Flowers and owner Baronelle Stutzman, various published reports indicated it was unprecedented for the attorney general to take action in a consumer-related complaint without an actual complaint.
Examples usually include the allegedly-injured party filing a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission, or seeking out the AG’s office. In the case of Robert Ingersoll — the man turned away from Arlene’s after seeking flowers for a same-sex wedding — did neither. Ingersoll and his partner did, however, seek help from the ACLU.
The AG’s office told Newstalk 870 they acted upon the complaint after hearing about it through news reports. We asked Janet Guthrie, Communications Director for AG Robert Ferguson some questions related to the suit. She sent the following reply:
As noted in the release, we brought this action under the Consumer Protection Act, not under the Washington Law Against Discrimination. Discrimination against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, and it is not unprecedented or unusual for the Attorney General’s Office to enforce the Consumer Protection Act.
The Consumer Protection Act since 2006 has had specific language forbidding a business or person who supplies goods and services from discriminating on the basis of sexual preference or other related factors. The AG’s position is they believe Arlene’s is in violation of that law.
Her attorneys argue a business person is being forced to provide certain types of services against their religious or moral beliefs. They argue this is no different than a musician being forced to compose music, or an artist being forced to paint a picture, against their will.