By Samuel Smith, The Christian Post
A florist in Washington State who refused to provide floral arrangements to a gay couple for their same-sex wedding ceremony, due to her religious objection to such a union, can now legally be sued personally by the state’s attorney general’s office, a judge in the state has determined.
Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled last week that the state may bring a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, as she is being accused of violating the Consumer Protection Act when she declined to provide floral arrangements to a regular customer’s same-sex wedding because it went against her Christian beliefs.
The judge’s decision means that Stutzman remains at risk of suffering a serious personal financial hit and potential loss of her business. Ekstrom has set the trial date for March 23.
“The clear language of the Consumer Protection Act and state anti-discrimination law supports both corporation and individual liability,” Ekstrom said in explaining his decision.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, an advocacy group defending religious expression and also representing Stutzman, filed a motion stating that state law does not allow for a person to be sued personally for actions taken under business capacity. The organization also argues that Stutzman did not discriminate against the customer because she has served him flowers many times in the past.