Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal in Clash Between Florist and Gay Couple

by Msnbctv news staff

After the United States Supreme Court’s muddled decision in the Colorado case, the justices sent the florist’s case back to the Washington Supreme Court for a fresh look. In 2019, that court again ruled for the couple, saying that Ms. Stutzman did not have a constitutional right to ignore a state law prohibiting businesses open to the public from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. It added that it had seen no religious bias in the consideration of the case.

In the Colorado case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion turned on the argument that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which originally ruled against the baker, had been hostile to religion, based on the remarks of one of its members.

In the new Washington case, lawyers for the florist said the state’s lawsuit against her was itself evidence of impermissible religious bias. “The state acted with hostility by targeting Barronelle’s religious beliefs for punishment,” they wrote in their petition seeking Supreme Court review.

Mr. Ingersoll said his encounter with Ms. Stutzman had left lasting pain.

“After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop,” he said, “we canceled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead. We hope this decision sends a message to other L.G.B.T.Q. people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the couple, welcomed Friday’s development but said there was more work to be done.

“No one should walk into a store and have to wonder whether they will be turned away because of who they are,” she said. “Preventing that kind of humiliation and hurt is exactly why we have nondiscrimination laws. Yet 60 percent of states still don’t have express protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people like the kind in Washington State.”

Kristen K. Waggoner, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Ms. Stutzman, also said there was more work to do. “Although the outcome of this case is tragic,” she said, “the critical work of protecting the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans must continue. No one should be forced to express a message or celebrate an event they disagree with.”

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