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Florist In Same-Sex Wedding Case Appeals To U.S. Supreme Court

Anna King
Northwest News Network
File photo. The owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, refused to do the flowers for a gay couple's wedding.

A Richland, Washington, flower shop owner who was on the losing end of a same-sex wedding discrimination case now wants to piggyback on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Attorneys for Arlene's Flowers and its owner Barronelle Stutzman filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Friday. They want to join the upcoming argument involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding because of his religious beliefs about marriage.

The Arlene's Flowers case involved a florist who would not sell flowers for a gay wedding in Richland on the same principles. The Washington state Attorney General and the couple filed suit against the flower shop owner in 2013 for illegally discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The state has prevailed at every level up to now.

Attorneys for Stutzman with the Alliance Defending Freedom told the high court that, "Reviewing the two cases together would aid this Court in deciding the important First Amendment questions presented." 

In the event the justices do not want to take up the Arlene's Flowers case, Stutzman's attorneys requested the U.S. Supreme Court at least hold the case until it decides the fate of the Colorado baker. 

The Supreme Court has not yet published a calendar for this autumn’s round of oral arguments, which begin in October.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was one of only 32 cases the nation’s high court accepted for its October 2017 term out of thousands of petitions for review. 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he's not surprised by the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. His office will have the opportunity to file a brief opposing high court review. But if the high court takes the case, he said he doesn't expect it to be successful.

"I don't think there's anyone who thinks that a business should be able to refuse service to someone because they're African-American, for example, or because they're Jewish. That's well settled law in our country and so I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court will take any different view when it comes to protecting the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters," Ferguson said in an interview with public radio.

Kate Walters of member station KUOW contributed to this report.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.