Washington Supreme Court hears arguments in Arlene's Flowers cas - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington Supreme Court hears arguments in Arlene's Flowers case

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RICHLAND, WA - A florist who was sued for refusing to provide services for a same sex-wedding says she was exercising her First Amendment rights, but Washington Supreme Court justices questioned whether ruling in her favor would mean other businesses could turn away customers based on racial or other grounds.

The court heard arguments Tuesday in the case against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the state and federal constitutions confer no right to discriminate against people.

Justice Steven Gonzalez compared the florist's action to racial discrimination, asking what would happen if someone proclaimed a sincerely held religious belief not to serve interracial couples.

But the florist's attorney said that under First Amendment protections, Stutzman should not be compelled to support same-sex marriage.

"So racial discrimination would be based on a bad religious belief, according to you, but this discrimination would not be. Doesn't that task the courts with deciding what's a good religious belief and what's a bad religious belief?" says Justice Sheryl McCloud.

"No for two reasons. One it doesn't task you with that because the right of expression claim isn't contingent just on the religious belief. There are millions of Americans, millions of people throughout the world who have always believed marriage is between a man and a woman," says Kristen Kellie Waggoner, Arlene's Flowers Council.

"The owner of the business has chosen to enter into business. As this court has long held and as the United State Supreme Court has held, when a person when a person chooses to enter a business they are bound by the laws and regulations that regulate others in that business. If the court deviates from that it risks undermining the entire anti-discrimination of this state," says Michael Scott, of Curt Freed & Rob Ingersoll Council.

The justices did not come up with a decision Tuesday, those usually come back in about six months.

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