Special Columbia Basin Badger Club Meeting Debates Arlene's Flow - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Special Columbia Basin Badger Club Meeting Debates Arlene's Flowers Issue

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RICHLAND, Wash. - "But I thought it was MY business!" That was the topic of a special Columbia Basin Badger Club meeting in Richland. 

The topic was chosen because of the controversial choices made by the owner of Arlene's Flowers. Barronelle Stutzman refused to arrange flowers for a same sex wedding and now faces two lawsuits.

"I think having a forum where we can discuss it civilly and get down to the nuts and bolts of the topic is going to help everybody," said moderator Andy Perdue.

It's an emotionally charged topic. But one that speaker Beth Bloom, a lawyer from Seattle, said is history's repetition. She cited segregation and equal pay as similar social issues the nation has dealt with in the past.

"In each of those cases, time and time again, the courts have found that no, it's discrimination and we don't agree that you can't have a patchwork of rights. Like, some people have full equality under the law and some people don't," said Bloom.

"The rights of conscience and freedom to speak or not to speak in alignment with one's convictions is a more important right to defend. Especially in a larger consumer culture where many other goods and services can be found in many other places with many other providers," said pastor David Parker. 

Parker provided the opposing opinion at the meeting. He believes people show 'deference and respect' by seeking out services elsewhere, rather than asking a business owner to take part in something they disagree with. 

"You hope everybody comes away a little more educated about it. Even if they don't change their mind. I mean, there's some topics people are just not going to change their mind on. I think we all know what those topics are. Usually, they relate to religion or politics and this goes into both of those," said Perdue.

Stutzman is currently facing two discrimination lawsuits. One from the couple she denied flowers for and another from the state attorney general's office. That trial is expected to begin next spring.