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Washington State Supreme Court Rules Florist Broke Anti-Discrimination Law


The Supreme Court in Washington state has ruled unanimously that a florist broke the state's anti-discrimination law. The florist had refused to provide arrangements for a same-sex wedding, arguing that she shouldn't be compelled to do something against her religious beliefs. Here's Anna King of the Northwest News Network with more.

ANNA KING, BYLINE: The same-sex couple married without the help of Arlene's Flowers back in 2013, but since then, the couple and the florist have been in a legal fight. Rob Ingersoll, one half of the couple, says he's relieved.

ROB INGERSOLL: Young, gay individuals that may not have the support of their families or communities are very fragile. And we don't want ever to have them or anybody discriminated again.

KING: That sentiment was echoed by Washington's attorney general, Bob Ferguson. He says Arlene's Flowers in Richland doesn't have to sell wedding flowers at all.


BOB FERGUSON: However, if they choose to sell wedding flowers, they cannot choose to sell wedding flowers only for heterosexual couples and deny that same service to gay couples.

KING: The florist's name is Barronelle Stutzman. Her lawyer argues that making flowers is a form of free speech and artistic expression, and she shouldn't be compelled by the state to act against her religious beliefs. Stutzman says, as a Christian, marriage is between one man and one woman. However, the couple had been longtime customers of hers.

BARRONELLE STUTZMAN: I knew Rob was gay for all those years, and it made no difference to me. I chose not to participate in one event, and that's what this is all about.

KING: Stutzman's lawyers say they plan to appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in 2014, the high court declined to hear a similar case from New Mexico. There, the state Supreme Court ruled that it was against the law for a wedding photographer to refuse a same-sex couple. For NPR News, I'm Anna King in Richland, Wash. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.