In 2013, shortly after marriage for same-sex couples became legal in Washington State, Richland florist Baronnelle Stutzman refused to sell wedding flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, citing her religious beliefs. The State of Washington, through the Attorney General, sued Ms. Stutzman and her business, Arlene’s FLowers, for violations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed also filed a complaint for violations of Washington’s Law Against Discrimination and the CPA.
The trial court held that it is illegal in Washington for a business to offer services to opposite-sex couples yet refuse those same services to same-sex partners. But that wasn’t the end of the road—Ms. Stutzman appealed to the state Supreme Court, which will hear the case this fall.
Legal Voice—along with our allies at the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Bar Association—filed a “friend of the court” brief urging the Washington Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s decision. We argue that Washington’s laws prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation were enacted to protect against the exact discrimination experienced by Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed. Furthermore, allowing such discrimination causes serious harms to the dignity, health, and well-being of individuals and our society as a whole.