AG files lawsuit against florist that refused service to same-sex couple

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Photo: The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday that his office has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Wash.

On March 1, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers, allegedly refused to provide wedding flowers to longtime customer, Robert Ingersoll, based on her opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Attorney General's Office sent a letter to Stutzman on March 28, requesting she reconsider her position and sign an agreement indicating her intention to comply with Washington laws. Stutzman's attorneys responded Monday and said that Stutzman would challenge any state action to enforce the law.

"As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service."

In a complaint filed in Benton County Superior Court Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office seeks a permanent injunction requiring Arlene's Flowers to comply with the state's consumer protection laws. The state also seeks $2,000 in fines for every violation of the law.