Home May 2015 Washington florist fined $1,001 in religious freedom case

Washington florist fined $1,001 in religious freedom case


From WORLD News Service

KENNEWICK, Wash.  — A Richland, Wash., great-grandmother has been ordered to pay $1,001 to the state for violating its Consumer Protection Act when she re-fused to create a flower ar-rangement for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding. The court has yet to impose an award for the gay couple.
Barronelle Stutzman, 70, sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed for more than nine years. But when Ingersoll asked her to do flowers for the couple’s wedding in 2013, Stutzman said she couldn’t because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” She referred them to another floral business. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Stutzman for sexual orientation discrimination under the Consumer Protection Act..Ingersoll and Freed then filed their own lawsuit against her. A ruling on Feb. 18 settled both suits by judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor.
Ferguson publicly offered to settle the case if Stutzman would agree to pay a $2,000 fine for violating CPA, a $1 payment for “fees,” promise not to discriminate in the future, and end the litigation. But Stutzman declined the offer. “It’s about freedom, not money,” she wrote. “Washington’s constitution guarantees us ‘freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.’ I cannot sell that precious freedom.”
On March 27, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom issued a decree ordering Stutzman to pay a $1,000 “civil penalty” to the state and $1 in attorneys’ fees. The order also issued a permanent injunction against any “disparate treatment” in offering goods or services to customers due to their sexual orientation.
Ekstrom postponed awarding damages to Ingersoll and Freed until after a ruling is made on Stutzman’s appeal.
“The message sent by the attorney general and the ACLU to the people of Washington is quite clear,” said Alliance Defending Freedom-allied attorney Kristen Waggoner in a statement. “Surrender your religious liberty and free speech rights, or face personal and professional ruin.”