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US Supreme Court won't hear case of Washington florist who refused gay wedding

The U.S. Supreme Court gives a Washington florist who refused to serve gay wedding a new hearing before state courts.
Credit: Iuliia Zavalishina

The U.S. Supreme Court is ordering Washington courts to take a new look at the case of a florist who refused to provide services for the wedding of two men because of her religious objection to same-sex marriage.

In 2017, the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Arlene's Flowers in Richland, and owner Barronelle Stutzman, violated state anti-discrimination law when she refused to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple, citing her religious beliefs.

“I serve everyone. What I can’t do is create custom floral arrangements that celebrate events or express messages at odds with my faith," Stutzman said in a statement. "For that, the attorney general has relentlessly prosecuted me, even suing me in my personal capacity."

The couple, Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson originally sued the Tri-Cities florist in 2013, arguing state anti-discrimination laws prohibit businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson doesn't believe the ruling will change.

"You cannot discriminate against a protected class, in this case, someone based on their sexual orientation. The Supreme Court in our state ruled 9-0 that was a pretty straightforward application of the law," said Ferguson, earlier this year.

The justices’ order Monday means the court is passing for now on the chance to decide whether business owners can refuse on religious grounds to comply with anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people.

That’s the same issue they confronted, but ultimately passed over in the recent ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who also objected to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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