Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland,
Washington florist who refused to supply flowers for a gay wedding,
faces a second lawsuit.
Stutzman already faced a lawsuit by the
state. State Attorney Bob Ferguson earlier this month filed a
consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers & Gifts.
On Thursday, the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a second lawsuit against Stutzman on
behalf of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, the gay couple who were
Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU,
said its suit centers on the state's law prohibiting discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Everybody is entitled to their own
private religious beliefs and the ACLU respects that strongly,”
Honig is quoted as saying by Reuters. “But a business open to the
public cannot use religion as a reason to justify discriminating.”
Stutzman explained last month that
providing the service would be a violation of her faith.
Ingersoll “said he decided to get
married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, 'I am
sorry. I can't do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus
Christ,'” Stutzman told CBS affiliate KEPR.
“We hugged each other and he left,
and I assumed that was the end of the story,” she added.
Justin Bristol, Stutzman's attorney,
said that his client has a constitutional right to refuse service
based on her convictions.
“She is one of the few people left
today willing to stand by her convictions rather than compromise her
beliefs,” Bristol said. “She's a very nice lady and doesn't have
a discriminatory bone in her body, but she doesn't want to be forced
to participate in an event that she doesn't believe in.”
The state's lawsuit seeks fines against
the business, while the ACLU suit seeks damages on behalf of the
plaintiffs, Ingersoll and Freed.