ACLU sues Arlene's Flowers based on flower refusal

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against a Richland florist based on the florist's denial of flowers for a gay wedding. The lawsuit was filed in Benton County and can be found here.

Robert Ingersoll never expected the case to go this far. Now he's in full support of standing up for the civil rights of himself, his partner and the overall gay community.

He said, "it's about making the biggest impact and for the greatest number of people."

It's why Robert and his partner allowed the American Civil Liberties Union to file a suit on their behalf. They're suing Arlene's Flowers for denying flowers for their wedding.

"It wasn't about us getting married, it wasn't about her religion, it was about discrimination," he said.

Barronelle Stutzman has maintained she would not supply the flowers because she didn't believe in same-sex marriage. The state already sued Stutzman, arguing she violated the Consumer Protection Act. Stutzman has stood her ground and intends to fight the suit.

KEPR went to the shop to speak to Barronelle. She wasn't here. Her staff told us that she's out on medical leave and isn't expected to return for a few days."

Robert plans to fight, too. "It would devastate us because we didn't do something about it. We just turned a blind eye to it, he said."

The lawsuit by the ACLU cites discrimination and a violation of the consumer protection act.

Stutzman's attorney maintains she's an artist. He has said the florist cannot be forced to design flowers for a gay wedding in the same way a musician couldn't be forced to write a song about it.
J.D. Bristol believes it's a first amendment issue.

"A heterosexual couple could come into her flower shop and say we want to buy flowers for a gay wedding and if she declined to do so it would be very difficult to argue that that's discrimination," he said.

Robert insists he and his partner aren't looking to get rich or famous. They just want equality.

"We just ask that we can learn to get along and understand each other's points of view," he said.