Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Richland Florist

Photo: N.L.

Photo: N.L.

A consumer protection lawsuit has been filed against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington. The complaint stems from an interaction wherein Stutzman denied service to a customer because he was in a same-sex relationship.

On March 1, Robert Ingersoll was interested in ordering flowers for his upcoming nuptials, but he was turned away. Same-sex marriage became legal on December 6, 2012 in the state of Washington. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed the aforementioned lawsuit, according to KOMO News.

KOMO News also reports:

Ferguson had sent a letter on March 28 asking her to comply with the law, but said Stutzman’s attorneys responded Monday saying she would challenge any state action to enforce the law. Washington State voters upheld a same-sex marriage law in November, and the law took effect in December.

The state’s anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2006 to include sexual orientation.

The business website states:

At Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts, our designers are excellent and are up to the challenge of doing the most creative of designs.

We’re a local Richland, Washington florist proudly serving the area with a lovely variety of fresh flowers and creative gift ideas to suit any style or budget. We hope you enjoy your online shopping experience with secure 24-hour ordering right at your fingertips. If preferred, you may call us to place orders direct at (509) 946-7676 or 1-800-692-0706. It is our pleasure to assist you with any local, as well as worldwide deliveries and remember that corporate accounts are always welcome.

They seem to have left out the line: “Unless you’re gay.”

Ferguson said in a media release: “As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

The Attorney General’s Office seeks a permanent injunction requiring Arlene’s Flowers to comply with the state’s consumer protection laws. The state also seeks $2,000 in fines for every violation of the law.