Supreme Court declines to hear Arlene's Flowers vase vs. WA state (google street view)
Supreme Court declines to hear Arlene's Flowers vase vs. WA state (google street view)

This began nearly a decade ago in 2013, when Baronnelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, refused to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding. Despite her referring the client, whom she knew and was a customer, to other floral shops the couple chose to sue.

An ACLU suit and one from the WA State Attorney General's office resulted. Nearly two years later, litigation continued. The AG's office sued under the Consumer Protection Act, which a number of years earlier had sexual orientation added to it by voters. However, it had never been tested prior to this.

Finally, Arlene's Flowers vs. Washington made its way to the Supreme Court, where Friday July 2, the court declined to hear the case. The Washington State Supreme Court, who are known for their liberal leanings, ruled against Stutzman twice, one of those times the Supreme Court had sent the case back to Washington state.

Stutzman has steadfastly argued that her religious freedoms and 1st Amendment rights of self-expression and free speech prevented her from being forced to violate those beliefs by providing the services. She was widely supported in the Columbia Basin for her view.

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The case touched off a wave of discussion and other suits as well. Forbes Magazine notes the Court's ruling is perhaps curious, considering a recent series of rulings in favor of similar religious freedom issues, including Hobby Lobby in 2014 suing to not be required to provide employee medical plans that cover abortions. Hobby Lobby ownership is steadfastly against such practices for faith-based reasons.

 Although the Supreme Court declined to hear the Arlene's Flowers case, information was released indicating the Judges Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch would have been willing to take it and hear it.

No immediate word as to what the next step Arlene's Flowers will take on this matter.


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