Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s legal action against 70-year-old Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman could have far-reaching consequences for many small business owners and entrepreneurs—consequences that haven’t entered into the discussion yet.
Last month, a Benton County judge ruled in favor of Ferguson in his lawsuit against Stutzman, who refused to create floral arrangements for the same sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed because of her Christian beliefs.
Based on the judge’s ruling, Stutzman stands to lose her family’s home, her life savings, her possessions, and her lifelong business, which had first belonged to her mother.
She’s not backing down.
Ferguson said that Stutzman’s refusal to create floral arrangements for a gay wedding violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act, which states, “Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.”
Ferguson also referenced Washington’s Civil Rights Act, which has been amended to include discrimination against sexual orientation, among many other things.
The Civil Rights Act says that discrimination includes, but is not limited to: denial of employment, discrimination in real estate transactions, credit, insurance, or HMO services, and denial of the right to use public accommodations and amusements.
The law says nothing about flowers.
The Civil Rights Act also forbids discriminatory blacklists and boycotts.