An elderly florist in Washington State has appealed to its Supreme after she was found guilty of violating anti-discrimination laws last year.
Baronnelle Stutzman, 71, runs a business called Arlene’s Flowers in the city of Richland, close to the border with Oregon. Amongst her regular customers was a man called Rob Ingersoll. She had provided he and his partner Curt Freed with floral arrangements for as long as nine years, including flowers to mark Valentine’s Day, The Washington Times reports.
But when they asked her to provide arrangements for their upcoming wedding, she refused on the basis of her Christian beliefs and was subsequently sued by the State Attorney General. They found a different florist and went ahead with their wedding. Despite minimal financial loss, the couple expressed their disappointment at Stutzman’s refusal “after doing business with them for so many years”.
In a joint statement the couple announced:
“Planning our wedding should have been a joyful time in our lives, but instead we were hurt and saddened by being rejected for who we are.”
The Attorney General’s offered her to drop the charges against her if Ms Stutzman agreed to provide flowers for other same sex couples but she refused, the paper reports. She was found liable for Mr Ingersoll’s legal costs.