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Colorado Wedding Cake Case Could Impact Washington’s Arlene's Flowers

Anna King
Northwest News Network
File photo. The owner of Arlene's Flowers refused to make wedding flowers for a same-sex couple in 2013.

A Colorado case before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could have major implications for a similar case in Washington state. That case involves a Richland florist who’s been waging a multi-year legal battle.

It started back in 2013 when a same-sex couple wanted wedding flowers. The owner of Arlene’s Flowers said no, citing her religious beliefs.

The couple sued and the case eventually made it to the Washington Supreme Court. The court ruled unanimously against the florist, who then appealed.

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t decided whether to hear the case yet.

But the Colorado case now before the U.S. Supreme Court is remarkably similar. Both Colorado and Washington argue that business owners can’t discriminate.

Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell said the states are watching the case closely.

“If they rule for the baker it would just blow a hole in anti-discrimination laws and open up Pandora’s box of possible exceptions and exemptions for people to be allowed to discriminate,” he said.

Lawyers for both the Colorado baker and the Richland florist maintain that creating cakes or floral arrangements are a form of free speech and artistic expression. And that the owners can’t be compelled to violate their religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Colorado case sometime next year.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.