Barronelle Stutzman is facing a second lawsuit, this time from the American Civil Liberties Union. Stutzman is already facing a consumer protection lawsuit over an incident where she refused to sell flowers to a gay couple who had been customers of hers for many years. She refused to cater to them after the two decided to get married.
She cited her religious beliefs as the reason why she would not cater their flowers; however, in doing so she violated Washington State’s laws regarding discrimination. Stutzman is already facing a lawsuit from Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The plaintiffs in this case are Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. The ACLU of Washington State is representing them.
This past November, Washington State’s voters upheld a law granting marriage equality to same-sex couples. Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU of Washington noted that this centers not on marriage equality, but upon the discrimination law.
Honig stated “Everybody is entitled to their own private religious beliefs and the ACLU respects that strongly. But a business open to the public cannot use religion as a reason to justify discriminating.”
Stutzman’s attorney, Justin Bristol, claims that forcing her to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding violates her constitutional rights of freedom of speech, association, and religious excercise. He stated that “She is one of the few people left today willing to stand by her convictions rather than compromise her beliefs. 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.”
Bristol is, however, incorrect in his interpretation, but it is a common claim.
The ACLU lawsuit lists Freed and Ingersoll as plaintiffs and seeks damages on their behalf unlike the lawsuit brought by the Attorney General.