Florist Discriminated Against Gay Couple, Washington Supreme Court Rules

SEATTLE — A florist who refused to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding cannot claim religious belief as a defense under the state’s anti-discrimination laws, Washington’s high court said Thursday, in a case that has been watched around the nation by religious and civil rights groups.

The unanimous ruling by the nine-member state Supreme Court, which a lawyer for the florist said would be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, addressed sweeping questions about public accommodation, artistic expression and free speech.

But at its heart was a very human story about Arlene’s Flowers in the small city of Richland, in southeast Washington, and what happened there in 2013 when Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed started planning their wedding. The shop’s owner, Barronelle…

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