Christian florist
Should Christian wedding vendors be legally obligated to serve LGBTQ customers?

A Christian flower shop owner has thrown in the towel, settling with a same-sex couple some eight years after declining them floral arrangements for their wedding.

After nearly a decade of legal wrangling, appeals upon appeals, and requests to be heard by the Supreme Court, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, has accepted legal defeat.

She recently withdrew her latest petition to the Supreme Court, and agreed to a settlement of $5,000 to the couple, Curt Freed and Robert Ingersol. They say they’ll donate their settlement to an LGBTQ charity, and match the donation themselves.

The case was an early flashpoint in the war between Chrisitan wedding vendors and same-sex couples, with the former denying service to gay couples on religious grounds, and the latter arguing that was blatant discrimination.

The courts agreed with the couple, finding that Stutzman acted in a discriminatory manner, despite the fact that providing flowers to the same-sex wedding would damage her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”

When it comes to gay marriage, should wedding vendors legally get to speak now, or should they forever hold their peace?

A Flower Glower

The saga began in 2013 when a couple, Curt Freed and Robert Ingersol, visited Arlene’s Flowers in hopes of getting arrangements for their upcoming wedding. The two were long time customers of the shop, and were shocked when Stutzman declined to provide arrangements for their wedding.

They sued, citing discrimination, and kicked off a case that attracted nationwide media attention. Soon the American Civil Liberties Union and the Alliance Defending Freedom were providing legal representation to their particular cause of choice.

In 2015, a judge ruled that the flower shop violated Washington State discrimination laws, and in 2016 Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued against Arlene’s Flowershop in front of the Washington Supreme Court. The court unanimously agreed that the shop violated anti-discrimination laws, with one Justice famously saying that "this case is no more about the access to flowers than civil rights cases were about access to sandwiches."

Stutzman requested numerous times to have the case tried before the Supreme Court, all to no avail. She’s now finally withdrawn those requests, and agreed to pay the couple $5,000.

Fresh Baked Outrage

This is hardly the first time wedding vendors and same-sex couples have taken their disagreements to the courthouse. You might remember Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused service to a gay couple back in 2012.

As he put it at the time, "I didn't want to use my artistic talents to create something that went against my Christian faith.” 

That case actually did land right in front of the Supreme Court in 2018, which ruled 7-2 in his favor. And while at first glance that may sound like a decisive victory for the “religious freedom” camp, many at the time accused the nation’s highest court of punting on the issue: Their ruling was so narrow that it could only possibly apply to that particular case.

Florists, artists, bakers again… somehow anti-gay wedding vendors became soldiers on the frontline of the culture war. They still maintain that their religious beliefs should trump the rights of same-sex couples to not be discriminated against, and that gay couples are free to go to any number of pro-LGBTQ vendors.

But many view things differently. Per the Washington State Supreme Court’s opinion, Stutzman herself acknowledged that “providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism.”

So how is providing flowers to a same-sex wedding an endorsement?

The case certainly brings up an interesting legal question. While Washington’s courts found religious discrimination against LGBTQ couples illegal, other states have ruled in favor of anti-gay wedding vendors in other states. 

When the rights of same-sex couples and wedding vendors collide, who should win?

57 comments

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    As a self-professed biblical scholar (who uses the Thomas Jefferson Bible exclusively) I can state, with the highest degree of certainty, that no one should call themselves a Christian, unless they try their best, as the mythological Jesus mandated, to adhere to the “Golden Rule” (which Christians, who self-identify as scholars, claim that Jesus plagiarized from Buddhism.

    Ergo, anyone who’s a homophobe, a misogynist, a blatant racist, or despises anyone who doesn’t call themselves a Christian, shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves a Christian.

    Bishop Bill, from Broken Arrow, OK.

    1. Reverend Gary's Avatar Reverend Gary

      A “scholar” who uses only ONE source for researching a world-wide phenomenon? Humm. The definition of scholar has been redefined, indeed.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Reverend Nick Page About time too.Come on everyone wake up to the 21st century. Jesus treated us as all equal No one should be put in a box Whether gay,straight, black, white Jewish or otherwise Everyone is equal do not label anyone. There is no room for racism in today's world period. Live and let live. The world has enough hatred.Going on Stop it all together Try and make the world a happy place. Put down your weapons hug the next person male or female Black, White,Jewish, Muslim etc Then tell them you love them I love my friends either gender.As the famous John Lennon prayed and sang for .Give Peace A Chance .

    1. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

      This is a classic example of putting one's values, beliefs and ethics to the side, when it is a self-owned business. The bullies, in this instance, my fellow gay family, believing they're entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want and I say NO! A person and their property is as valuable as the next. This forced acceptance (aka- bullying) causes nothing but resentment towards that group.

      1. David A Griffith's Avatar David A Griffith

        I’m sorry Frank, but Jesus taught us to love another. He never said anything about only ones you like. I believe you are being wat to broad in your condemnation of LGBTQ+ people. This makes me wonder if you truly are what you claim to be.

        1. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

          It is written several times over that we shall love each other and to treat others the same way you wish to be treated. Now if a vegan were to go into a standard steakhouse, should that steakhouse have as many options for that vegan as they do the carnivores? Should Lulu Lemon have outfits available to the indigent as they are to the people who work hard? My answer is no to both.

          I am not a typical [slur for gay person] that caves into what the LGBT+++++++++ demands or expects. I'm a retired Marine Corps Military Police Sergeant homosexual that has darn fought, bled and shred to take the fullest advantage of all of the rights endowed to us U.S.A. Citizens and to be a free thinker.

          1. Roger E Kent's Avatar Roger E Kent

            Thank you for our service, sir

  1. Thom's Avatar Thom

    This is simple, if they had not had an agenda they would have walked down the street and gone to another florist's shop. But no, they had to go to this one and sue the owner. This owner has the ability to choose who they will serve and she made the choice. The two boys got their panties in a tangle and had to go to make their argument heard. Think what would have happen had they gone to a muslim owned florist/baker/caterer? Exactly, they would have been told no and the muslim belief would be agreed with and nothing would have happened. But, since this was a non-muslandian, they were told they had to believe in what the LGBTQ folks do and were not allowed to have their own beliefs. So, not only were the owner of the florists shop's freedom of speech rights broken, their freedom of religion rights were also violated. So, the 1st amendment means nothing.

    This was not a win, this was a loss for the free world.

    1. SueW's Avatar SueW

      Tell me you’re a bigot without telling me you’re a bigot.

      1. Reverend Gary's Avatar Reverend Gary

        As a business owner you have the right as the owner of the business to refuse service to anyone. And there is no requirement to provide any reason.

        1. SueW's Avatar SueW

          Entirely incorrect when it comes to discrimination. Repeating it won’t make it so.

          1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

            Entirely correct. Under federal anti-discrimination laws, businesses can refuse service to any person for any reason, unless the business is discriminating against a protected class. last time I looked Homosexuality or transgendered is NOT a protected class under federal law.

            Under federal law these and these ONLY are a protected class At the national level, protected classes include:

            Race or color National origin or citizenship status Religion or creed Sex Age Disability, pregnancy, or genetic information Veteran status

            Notice LGBTQ is not listed under any of them

          2. Roger E Kent's Avatar Roger E Kent

            Why are you discriminating against business owners?

        2. Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore's Avatar Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore

          Please feel free to disagree with the legal system you uphold there.....oh, and provide references while we're at it here.

    2. Heidi Merrigan's Avatar Heidi Merrigan

      As a business owner and entrepreneur who has owned several businesses, in a state with discrimination laws, I can not discriminate based on my customer's sexuality, race, religion or ethnicity. This woman sold to them over and over again, as it was their favorite flower shop. The couple had gone in many time to purchase flowers and she took their money. She only chose not to take their money, when they were having a wedding. She had already created a legal precedent by selling them flowers, when they were dating. If she was a florist that did florals for weddings, she was legally bound to sell them florals.

      I'm a nondenominational professional wedding officiant, I am not a Christian, nor am I Catholic or Muslim. Can I turn away a couple practicing one of those religions, NO! I'm known for doing very romantic, personal and creative ceremonies. I will tell my clients that I don't read scripture or Christian prayers, but if they want that or a very religious ceremony, first I will recommend religious wedding officiants, that are wonderful. If they still want to work with me, I agree, but suggest, they honor a friend or family member and have them read the scripture for them! I have nonreligious blessings, prayers and readings that I am happy to put into their ceremony.

      The florist could have had a member of her staff or hire someone else to create the florals and deliver them to the wedding. Once we become a business, open to the public in a nondiscrimination state, we have to follow the rules of that state. It doesn't matter what our religious beliefs or personal feelings are, we are a public business first.

    3. David A Griffith's Avatar David A Griffith

      Thom- how do you know how they would act toward a Muslim owned business? Don’t condemn what you don’t know. One of the big differences is that the Muslim owner would have sold what they wanted, while the Christian owner showed her hatred for those different from her.

    4. Heather's Flipped's Avatar Heather's Flipped

      This seems to be the extremely short version of the story. I recently read one of the original media releases concerning this couple. In the interview I read, they stated that they had hired the florist to provide their services for their ceremony. At least one member of the couple, I can't recall which, had been a long-time customer and the owner and he would regularly see each other in the business as well as around the neighborhood. They stated that when they originally contacted the florist, months before their wedding date, she had agreed to provide their floral arrangements for the ceremony. They had already discussed what arrangements they wanted, and I believe, had even paid the deposit for the services to be rendered. The couple stated that, had she canceled sooner, allowing them time to find alternate services, they would have been understanding. However, the business owner waited until just a matter of weeks before the wedding date, when it was much to late for them to find sufficient alternate arrangements. I completely, absolutely agree with the couple. It was disrespectful, un-businesslike and just plain mean. Yes, I believe all businesses have the right to refuse service for what ever reason they deem reasonable, but do it without creating more stress during a period many of us know is a very stressful time. It was just wrong.

  1. Reverend Kurt's Avatar Reverend Kurt

    All business, large and small including nations trade with each other regardless of ideologies, politics, historical alliances or personal opinions. Differences are put aside.Trade goes on, allowances and compromises are made to facilitate trade. So is so called business woman has a relationship with a 2000 year old ghost and her "relationship" with this ghost is threatened by the life style of some of her customers?
    Why is she is business at all if her "relationship" with a long dead man is more important and satisfying than the object of all business, E.G to serve a societal need, to earn a living and generate a profit?

    1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

      WHEN YOU FIND THE ANSWER PLEASE LET ME K N O W ?

      ONE PICKs FLOWERs N O T, CUSTOMERs, DON"T LIKE YOUR CLIENTs LOCK YER DOORs CRETIN !

  1. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

    DISGUSTING!! As a gay man myself I can DEFINITELY say the acts of these gay heathens is exactly that. If it is a private business and it goes against the owner's values and beliefs, then let them be. I understand the desire of belonging and acceptance but I also know that when a room becomes available at my house, I will select the person I want.

    What has happened here is a DEFINITE way of people holding resentment towards a class of people. Bullying never works for true acceptance.

    1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

      THATS YOUR HOUSE NOT YOUR BUSINESS !

      1. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

        If it is a private business, then it is their business to practice however they wish as long as it doesn't violate any actual written laws. If they want change, which in this case they wanted dollars instead, then they should go through their elected officials. We have a process here in America and these nasty queens, out of their spite and hate, decided to profit rather than acknowledge one's beliefs.

    2. SueW's Avatar SueW

      So should African Americans have continued to sleep in their cars and eat soggy sandwiches on long trips because hotels wouldn’t allow them to stay and restaurants wouldn’t serve them? OMFG you voted for 45 didn’t you?

      1. Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore's Avatar Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore

        Clearly not, then again, who's gonna pay their lawyers fees? Where is their own wherewithal to stand up for themselves? Do they even know that it is something they can stand for?(They should). There is a point to which everyone says 'Not worth it any more', and simply move on. How much time/energy/money are you willing to commit to an ideal? There is no common answer to this. Everyone values such things in their own measures. Some don't value it at all, others like to do their 'virtue signalling' by saying 'those people need help too you know' and they never do anything but make random comments on the internet to make themselves feel better.

        If you don't walk the walk, when you talk the talk, you are part of the problem. I do what I can for those I can but I don't try to tell everyone what is common sense to make myself seem like I'm better than the next person. You have moved into ego territory and now are far off your own virtues......wait, unless you want to come off as sounding all righteous while not doing a damn thing about it. Then if so, good job and thanks. You are part of 'the plan', just like everyone else is.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Um sorry but no. She paid her own legal costs which is what the 5K was for. And she did not accept defeat as she retired. major difference between the lies told here and the actual truth

    1. SueW's Avatar SueW

      She agreed to pay $5k to the couple. If it was for their legal fees, it’s still a win. The fact that she retired has no relevance to the case.

      1. Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore's Avatar Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore

        Pretty sure that a court battle over the period of what, 9 years, would cost more than 5K. So this is just a little 'ding' win for the men. Nothing more.

      2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Sorry but if you read the court documents, she agreed to pay the 5K to a charity, and a christian charity at that. Sort of rubbing salt into their self claimed wounds.

  1. Dave crandall's Avatar Dave crandall

    There is a time to heal. A time pray

  1. Dave crandall's Avatar Dave crandall

    These people settled. We should embrace this.

  1. Dave crandall's Avatar Dave crandall

    These people settled. We should embrace this.

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    “A time to pray” is after all practical efforts, to obtain whatever one eventually ends up praying for, have failed.

    Prayer — is akin, to a drowning man grasping for a straw.

  1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

    YOU SELL FLOWERS, A HO !!!

    1. Reverend Gary's Avatar Reverend Gary

      John ~ I am impressed, I became lost in your in-depth technical details and the verbosity of what are, at the very least, outstanding linguistic skills. I would appreciate, and no doubt others would also benefit, if you could break down the complexities of your sesquipedalianism in such a way as to make it more understandable to those of us that do not have the skills you demonstrated in your statement so we can enjoy the full and elaborate meaning of what you are conveying?

    2. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

      And so do many other stores!

      1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

        WHATs YOUR POINT GUARINO !

        1. Frank Peter Guarino's Avatar Frank Peter Guarino

          My point is, that's not the only floral shop there, Maher.

  1. Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore's Avatar Donald Sidney Alexander Belmore

    You know, it's fine to have a belief. Everyone has them. You can believe whatever you want. The problem is when you cross that line from having a PERSONAL belief into forcing that ideology onto the PUBLIC.

    The flower shop owner opened a PUBLIC business. By default, she is mandated to follow the rules of running a PUBLIC business.

    Don't want to sell flowers to 'anything other than straight couples', that's ok with me. Just do it PRIVATELY.....like one should do with their beliefs. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    There is zero justification for trying to force your beliefs onto anyone else. Discussion, sure. Disagreements, most likely. No one has to believe what you do. You just don't have the right to force that belief onto anyone else when you agree to be a business that serves the public.

  1. Minister Troy's Avatar Minister Troy
    1. Two Muslim Transport Drivers were awarded almost $250,000 total after being fired for refusing to drive a truck carrying alcohol, as it went against their personal faith (Islam). https://www.eeoc.gov/newsroom/jury-awards-240000-muslim-truck-drivers-eeoc-religious-discrimination-suit

    2. While there were those who were in fact kicked out of the temple by Jesus (Matt.21, Christianity); we are told not to judge others for what they do and we are not worthy to do so, because there is only one Lawmaker and Judge (and we are definitely not Jesus). Technically, it does not even matter what we do if we are Saved, as 'just as [we] could not redeem ourselves, so as [we] cannot condemn ourselves'.

  1. Michael Barton's Avatar Michael Barton

    Flower folks shouldn't be restricted by the public places laws. The flower lady shouldn't have given her excuse and simply told the couple to look elsewhere.

    You don't win the freedom war by stealing someone else's freedoms.

    You don't have the right to force someone to do something that is against their religion or opinions. Whatever that may be.

    1. Heidi Merrigan's Avatar Heidi Merrigan

      As a business owner and entrepreneur who has owned several businesses, in a state with discrimination laws, I can not discriminate based on my customer's sexuality, race, religion or ethnicity. This woman sold to them over and over again, as it was their favorite flower shop. The couple had gone in many time to purchase flowers and she took their money. She only chose not to take their money, when they were having a wedding. She had already created a legal precedent by selling them flowers, when they were dating. If she was a florist that did florals for weddings, in a non-discrimnation state, she was legally bound to sell them florals.

      I'm a nondenominational professional wedding officiant, I am not a Christian, nor am I Catholic or Muslim. Can I turn away a couple practicing one of those religions, NO! I'm known for doing very romantic, personal and creative ceremonies. I will tell my clients that I don't read scripture or Christian prayers, but if they want that or a very religious ceremony, first I will recommend religious wedding officiants, that are wonderful. If they still want to work with me, I agree, but suggest, they honor a friend or family member and have them read the scripture for them! I have nonreligious blessings, prayers and readings that I am happy to put into their ceremony.

      The florist could have had a member of her staff or hire someone else to create the florals and deliver them to the wedding. Once we become a business, open to the public in a nondiscrimination state, we have to follow the rules of that state. It doesn't matter what our religious beliefs or personal feelings are, we are a public business first.

      1. Daniel Myers's Avatar Daniel Myers

        "I'm a nondenominational professional wedding officiant, I am not a Christian, nor am I Catholic or Muslim. Can I turn away a couple practicing one of those religions, NO! I'm known for doing very romantic, personal and creative ceremonies. I will tell my clients that I don't read scripture or Christian prayers, but if they want that or a very religious ceremony, first I will recommend religious wedding officiants, that are wonderful"

        To me, this begs the question; why did you become a wedding officiant in the first place? A couples wedding, first or even second, is the most romantic, memorable, memory filled time of their lives. It sounds from your writing that you may be either an agnostic or even an atheist which is fine, but to the majority of people on this planet who believe in God, or even refer to Him as their Higher Power, He IS the one whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, instituted Holy Matrimony in the first place. I do thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom on this case.

  1. Ronald D McKelvy Jr's Avatar Ronald D McKelvy Jr

    Only our Savior Jesu Christ can Judge and we are all Brothers and Sisters in Christ no matter our gender preference and we should follow according to God s law not our mental thinking law

  1. Gordon Billingsley's Avatar Gordon Billingsley

    Every business is supported by public funds for sidewalks, streets, police and fire protection, the legal protection contracts and business relationships. The only thing the public asks in return is that the business not discriminate. Anyone who cannot fulfill that public contract has an easy solution. Do something else.

  1. David M Rose's Avatar David M Rose

    The gay couple targeted this business, knowing full well the owners would object. This was malicious. Want to find a florist that supports the LGBTQ community? Swing a dead cat.

    1. Jenni Lovsey's Avatar Jenni Lovsey

      Typical biogoted response.

  1. John Hernandez's Avatar John Hernandez

    The flower business. Should have a choice. If they want to serve the customers.

  1. Rev. B's Avatar Rev. B

    "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."

    • Jesus
  1. rebadams7's Avatar rebadams7

    I simply believe that every artist in any medium should have the right to accept or decline any commission. This does not mean that when someone comes into your shop, looks at something on the shelf and says I want to buy this and you tell them no I can’t sell that to you- that’s wrong. However, when you are requesting an artist create a custom item for you, as I said any artist in any medium should have the right to decline any commission.

    1. Jenni Lovsey's Avatar Jenni Lovsey

      No they do not. Your beliefs take a back seat period. These people need to close shop and stay out of retail.

  1. Jenni Lovsey's Avatar Jenni Lovsey

    You do not get to pick and choose what customers you feel like serving based on your "beliefs".

  1. Keith Warren Kunz's Avatar Keith Warren Kunz

    The Gay Couple And The Florest were friends for years They Knew and had no right to refuse to a custermer. it should not have taken 8 years to go through the courts.

  1. Stephen Richard Jennings's Avatar Stephen Richard Jennings

    Love and truth and not small minded bigotry living a fantasy of what jesus said but referring only to old testament judgements

  1. Tami Lynn Holbury-Ferraro's Avatar Tami Lynn Holbury-Ferraro

    Im glad she has thrown in the towel because i see this as discrimination at its finest, its wrong and so was she.❤

  1. Tami Lynn Holbury-Ferraro's Avatar Tami Lynn Holbury-Ferraro

    Im glad she has thrown in the towel because i see this as discrimination at its finest, its wrong and so was she.❤

  1. Daniel Myers's Avatar Daniel Myers

    After having read and thought about some of the comments here, I'm concerned about those calling themselves "Biblical Scholars" who have no idea who Jesus Christ is/was, and those who are Christian who are supposed to aspire to live and walk a more Christ-like existence every day. As a minister, would I have performed a wedding ceremony for them? No, I would have stood firmly upon my faith and the teachings of the Bible as handed down by the God the Father.

    As a business owner, would I have denied them my services? No, why would I? In laymen's terms, they put their pants on the same way I do, their green money spends just as well as mine does, and after all, to me, they are my fellow human beings. As a Christian, whether someone is gay, Muslim, or whatever, it doesn't matter to me. I don't have to approve of their lifestyle choice and by serving them as my customer, I don't believe that I'm "endorsing" any particular group, party, lifestyle, or political affiliation - although I do try to limit my exposure to democrats! Lol! (Sarcasm heavily Implied!)

    Regardless of who they are, their station in life, whether it's a poor man begging for change or for food in the street, a man in a three piece suit, or two men or women embracing each other in a tender moment, my job, my nature, as a person to love them all equally and show them the same care, compassion, kindness, love, grace, understanding, forgiveness, humility, and faithfulness, that my Savior showed me when my life wasn't so pretty.

  1. Reverend Gary's Avatar Reverend Gary

    The Bible tells us that,

    “a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

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