The owner of a Washington flower shop is counter-suing the state after being told she could not refuse service to a gay customer.
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, told a longtime customer she couldn’t provide flowers for his wedding to another man because of “her relationship with Jesus Christ.” The attorney general is suing Stutzman for violating Washington’s consumer anti-discrimination law, but she says the state is actually violating her religious beliefs.
Her case has become a cause-celeb for opponents of marriage equality, who have long claimed a right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Republicans in the Washington Senate have introduced a bill that would make it legal for business owners to discriminate against LGBT patrons.
The florist’s lawyers reiterated that idea when talking about the lawsuit with the Seattle P-I:
“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,” said Dale Schowengerdt, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending Stutzman.
I’m floored that we’re still talking about this case. A counter-lawsuit means this incident is going to get tons more media attention; are we really at a place where we have to explain why discriminating is wrong?