WA Attorney General Discusses Arlene's Flowers Discrimination Ca - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WA Attorney General Discusses Arlene's Flowers Discrimination Case

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AG Bob Ferguson brought up the Arlene's case at a Rotary Club meeting in Kennewick Wednesday to explain how business owners cannot discriminate against people based of their sexual orientation. AG Bob Ferguson brought up the Arlene's case at a Rotary Club meeting in Kennewick Wednesday to explain how business owners cannot discriminate against people based of their sexual orientation.

KENNEWICK, WA - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made his way through our area of the state Wednesday to discuss his current work.

One hot topic was the controversial case his office filed against Arlene's Flower's in Richland for refusing to arrange flowers for a gay couple's wedding.

The Arlene's Flowers case isn't going to trial anytime soon, but it's important to get all the lawsuits straight because there are three of them tied up in this issue.

Ferguson brought up the Arlene's case at a Rotary Club meeting in Kennewick Wednesday to explain how business owners cannot discriminate against people based of their sexual orientation.

"Our law against discrimination prevents you from discriminating on the basis of race or religion or, since 2006, sexual orientation. If you do that in a consumer setting, you're automatically violating our consumer protection laws," said Ferguson.

Baronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlenes Flowers, is being sued by both the attorney general and the ACLU. Those lawsuits have been consolidated into one by a judge.

Stutzman is suing the attorney general to protect her religious freedoms and her lawyer says the federal case they've filed is supported by the state constitution.

"Frankly the lawsuit is unconstitutional. The constitution guarantees Americans the right to live and work in a manor that's consistent with their religious beliefs," said Kristen Waggoner, Stutzman's lawyer.

The attorney general's office says the lawsuit was not his first choice and sent a letter of violation, but Stutzman said she would stand by her beliefs.

Stutzman's lawyer says the lawsuit against her is unnecessary.

"There are a number of florists in the Tri-Cities area that are more than willing to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies. It's important to know Barronelle served Rob Ingersoll, the customer, for nine years. She just drew the line at marriage," Waggoner said.

There is no trial date for these cases at this time. The attorney general says it could be several months before it reaches court. And it might not make it to trial at all if the judge makes a decision in summary judgements.

The attorney general says these case are not uncommon nationwide, but this is the only case like it currently in Washington state.

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