Home AMERICA Supreme Court declines to decide whether religious flower shop owner can deny...

Supreme Court declines to decide whether religious flower shop owner can deny same-sex weddings

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Police stand guard at the Supreme Court in Washington.

Mike Thiler | Acesparks

The Supreme Court on Friday said it would not hear a case brought by a Christian florist who is arguing that Washington state’s anti-discrimination law that requires it to provide custom flower arrangements for same-sex marriage ceremonies Necessity is unconstitutional.

The court’s decision upheld the state court’s rulings against the florist. It comes weeks after the High Court weighed in on another gay-rights issue, with a Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia saying its religious beliefs make it difficult to work with same-sex foster parents. prevent it from doing.

The case is similar to a dispute that the top court had decided three years ago involving a religious baker who refused to make a custom cake for same-sex marriage.

In that decision, known as Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court held 7-2 in favor of Baker, but declined to provide a general rule that might apply outside the specific circumstances of the case.

The Flower Shop case, known as Arlene’s Flowers, involves the same lawyer and many of the same issues as the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

The opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also advocated for LGBT rights from the bench. Kennedy has since retired and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose views on LGBT rights are unknown.

The Florist case dates back to 2013, when Arlene Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the wedding ceremony of her longtime clients Kurt Freed and Robert Ingersoll, on the grounds that their Southern Baptist beliefs were between two men. Does not recognize middle marriages. .

Stutzman’s denial eventually prompted the state’s attorney general to obtain a court order prohibiting it from discriminating against same-sex couples in the future. The Washington Supreme Court upheld the order, prompting Stutzman to move the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court granted Stutzman’s request, and ordered the Washington Supreme Court to make a new ruling of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which found that Colorado was unfairly hostile to Baker’s religious beliefs. The Washington Supreme Court again upheld the order that required Stutzman to offer his services to same-sex couples, finding that the state had not treated Stutzman with hostility.

“The court branded Baronel a ‘discriminant’ and ordered him to participate in, facilitate and create custom floral art celebrating all marriages,” Kristen Wagner, an attorney for Stutzman, wrote to the judges.

Wagner, an executive in the Conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, was also one of the lawyers who represented Baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Stutzman has argued that his floral arrangement is effectively speech, protected by the First Amendment.

“Like all artists, Baronell spoke through his custom creations,” Wagner wrote in his petition with the top court, which characterized the flower arrangements as “multimedia works involving flowers.”

Ingersoll and Freed, who married in a small ceremony in 2013, have argued that Stutzman is essentially seeking a “floral art” exemption to anti-discrimination laws.

“The First Amendment notion of the right to discriminate has been rejected as many times as it has been raised,” wrote Riya Tabako Mar, an ACLU attorney representing the couple, who represented the couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

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