Friday, February 17, 2017

Washington Supreme Court Says Florist's Refusal To Sell For Same-Sex Wedding Violated State Law

In a widely followed case, the state of Washington's Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld a trial court's decision that a florist's religiously-motivated refusal to sell arranged flowers for a same-sex wedding violates the Washington Law Against Discrimination.  In State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers, Inc.,WA Sup. Ct., Feb. 16, 2017), the court, summarizing its 59-page decision, said:
Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman [the florist shop owner] was cited and fined in this case-refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding-constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the WLAD. We also hold that the WLAD may be enforced against Stutzman because it does not infringe any constitutional protection. As applied in this case, the WLAD does not compel speech or association. And assuming that it substantially burdens Stutzman's religious free exercise, the WLAD does not violate her right to religious free exercise under either the First Amendment or article I, section 11 [of the state constitution] because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government's compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.
A press release from ADF says that florist Barronelle Stutzman will seek U.S. Supreme Court review in the case. Links to pleadings and court rulings in the case can also be found on ADF's case page. (See prior related posting.) Tri-City Herald reports on the decision.