We’ve heard of past cases where wedding industry businesses (from bakeries to trolley companies) refused to deal with same-sex couples, but one couple says it was even worse when their local florist declined to provide flowers for their wedding, because she’s a long-time friend. The Washington attorney general has subsequently filed a consumer action against the florist.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the customer had been frequenting the florist’s shop for years, but then reportedly told him she wouldn’t do the flowers for his wedding to his partner “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
The lawsuit seeks $2,000 in fines for each violation, and wants to require the shop to comply with the state’s consumer protection laws. It’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in Washington.
The man and his partner had apparently been customers for about a decade, when he approached the owner about flowers for their September wedding. The woman wrote on her Facebook page that she then refused them, says the LAT.
“When it came to doing his wedding, I said, ‘I could not do it because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ He thanked me and said he respected my opinion. We talked and gave each other a hug and he left,” she wrote, adding that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
“I have hired all walks of people in different circumstances, and had the privilege of working with some very talented people that happen to be gay.”
The man told media he was upset by the experience. “It really hurt because it was somebody I knew,” he said. “We laid awake all night Saturday. It was eating at our souls. There was never a question she’d be the one to do our flowers. She does amazing work.”
Before filing the lawsuit this week, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he had sent a letter to the florist asking her to reconsider, but she declined to do so.
“As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their wedding, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”
Washington sues florist who said no to a same-sex wedding [Los Angeles Times]