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Iancucristi / Dreamstime.comThe Supreme Court today punted another case back down to the state level rather than further explore whether wedding service providers could legally be ordered to serve same-sex couples. "We view this decision as encouraging news that justice will prevail and the Washington State Supreme Court will again uphold the state's non-discrimination laws ensuring LGBTQ people can not be turned away from a business open to the public". In a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the court sided with the baker. "The lower courts must now grapple with the Masterpiece Cakeshop mandate that the state expunge from its actions any bias against religious beliefs its officials may personally wish to crush".
The United States Supreme Court announced Monday it was ordering the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider its judgment that a Christian florist must provide flowers for a same-sex "wedding" ceremony. Under state law in Washington, she could also be liable for the third-party attorneys' fees to the private individuals in the case.
In Stutzman's case, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed in 2017 a lower-court decision, finding the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that legalized gay marriage means discrimination "based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation".
The state Supreme Court will evaluate the case in light of the Cakeshop case and decide if it affects the Richland case.
Listen to the entire conversation below. The state Supreme Court didn't buy it.
"To be clear, the [Supreme] Court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case's merits", said lawyer said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project in a press release.
"Washington Attorney General Ferguson's efforts to punish Barronelle because he disagrees with her beliefs about marriage are as hostile and unconstitutional as Colorado's attempt to punish Jack for his faith", he said.
The justices took the path of least resistance and asked courts in North Carolina and Washington to review the cases in light of Supreme Court rulings in a Wisconsin districting case and a Colorado appeal from a baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Ingersoll said, "Curt and I now live our lives on-guard in a way that we didn't before we were turned away from Arlene's Flowers".
In Arlene's Flowers, an Evangelical Christian grandmother named Baronelle Stutzman likewise declined to participate in a same-sex wedding by doing the floral arrangements for the ceremony.
Waggoner said Stutzman had sold the customer, Rob Ingersoll, flowers for almost a decade and knew he was gay, but that his marriage did not comport with her beliefs and she could not provide services for it.