As of Tuesday, June 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. A Richland-based florist will get another day in the state’s highest court to argue her religious freedoms as they pertain to providing services to potential gay customers.
The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Washington State Supreme Court’s previous ruling against Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman.
In vacating the decision, the nation’s highest court pointed to its recent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling that religious freedom could not be overlooked in matters relating to gay marriage.
In the that Colorado case, baker Jack Philips refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, citing religious beliefs. A Colorado court ruled against Philips, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the ruling after finding religious bias.
In the case of Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman refused to provide floral services for a gay wedding, again citing her religious beliefs.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union sued Stutzman, and the state Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
But the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to refer the case back to court has the potential to change the outcome.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has made a positive move by asking the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle Stutzman’s case in light of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision,” Liberty Council Chairman Mat Staver said Monday. “The court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage…”
Stutzman and Philips have 1st Amendment freedom of religion rights that should’ve been protected.
“Both Barronelle and Jack serve all customers.
“Yet, they have a 1st Amendment right to decline using their artistic talents to celebrate an event that conflicts with their religious beliefs,” Staver said.
Gov. Jay Inslee, however, said he believes Stutzman’s case did not show any religious bias.
“Unlike the recent decision in the Colorado case, in Washington, there was never any indication of religious bias or hostility in our pursuit to protect consumers from discrimination,” he said, calling the vacated ruling “not surprising.”
“Washington will remain a place where members of the LGBTQ community can live, work and raise families without fear of discrimination,” he said.
“I have full confidence that the state will prevail once again.”