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Washington Supreme Court upholds ruling against florist who refused same-sex couple

The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday upheld its previous ruling that a florist discriminated against a same-sex couple by refusing to sell them flowers for their wedding.

The court found in 2017 that the company, Arlene’s Flowers, had violated state anti-discrimination law by refusing the same-sex couple.

But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 ordered the state’s justices to review whether there was “religious animus” in the decision after the high court narrowly ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple.

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The Washington court found that state courts “did not act with religious animus when they ruled that the florist and her corporation violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination … by declining to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple, and they did not act with religious animus when they ruled that such discrimination is not privileged or excused by the United States Constitution or the Washington Constitution.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the conservative Christian group representing florist Barronelle Stutzman in the case, said Thursday that it will request the Supreme Court to take up the case once again.

“Barronelle serves all customers; she simply declines to celebrate or participate in sacred events that violate her deeply held beliefs,” John Bursch, the vice president of appellate advocacy at ADF, said in a statement.

“Despite that, the state of Washington has been openly hostile toward Barronelle’s religious beliefs about marriage, and now the Washington Supreme Court has given the state a pass. We look forward to taking Barronelle’s case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Washington state law protects same-sex couples from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, the same way it protects Washingtonians from discrimination based on their religion, veteran or military status, disability, race and other protected classes,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement Thursday. “I will continue to uphold these laws and fight to protect Washingtonians from discrimination.”

The Supreme Court ruled narrowly in 2018 in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, finding that there were “some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility” from the state commission toward the baker’s religious beliefs.

The high court is currently considering whether to take up a similar case in Oregon, where a baker also refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple.

––This post was updated at 2:11 p.m.