The Washington state florist who
refused to serve a gay couple has agreed to settle with the men.
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner Arlene's
Flowers & Gifts in Richland, Washington, will pay a $5,000
settlement to the couple and has agreed to withdraw her appeal to the
U.S. Supreme Court. The couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed,
announced that they would donate and match the settlement to their
local PFLAG chapter.
Stutzman was represented by the
Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian
conservative legal group opposed to LGBT rights.
Stutzman in 2013 refused to serve
Ingersoll when he attempted to purchase flowers for his upcoming
marriage to now-husband Freed. Stutzman said that providing the
service would be a violation of her faith.
In 2015, she was found guilty of
violating the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection
laws and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $1 for court costs and
fees. Washington's highest court twice upheld the ruling.
Stutzman appealed the ruling to the
U.S. Supreme Court. The high court in July refused to hear the case.
Lawyers representing Stutzman had asked the high court to reconsider.
In a letter posted on the ADF website,
Stutzman said that she refused service to her “dear friend Rob”
because she “could not betray” her conscience. “But I am
willing to turn the legal struggle for freedom over to others. At age
77, it's time to retire and give my business to someone else,” she
Ingersoll and Freed were represented by
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In a statement released by the ACLU,
the couple said that they were “thankful that this long journey for
us is finally over.”
“We took on this case because we were
worried about the harm being turned away would cause LGBTQ people,”
they said. “We are glad the Washington Supreme Court rulings will
stay in place to ensure that same-sex couples are protected from
discrimination and should be served by businesses like anyone else.
We are also pleased to support our local PFLAG’s work to support
LGBTQ people in the Tri-Cities area. It was painful to be turned away
and we are thankful that this long journey for us is finally over.”