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Supreme Court Sends Back Case of Florist Who Denied Service to Same-Sex Couple

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court asked a lower court to again consider the case of a florist in Washington state who denied service to a same-sex couple based on her religious beliefs.

The justices sent the case back in light of their decision earlier this month in a Colorado case in which a cakeshop owner denied service to a same-sex couple for their wedding. The ruling, however, was on narrower grounds, as the justices found fault with the way that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was not neutral in how it treated the religious beliefs of the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jake Phillips.

The case of Arlene’s Flowers was similar in that its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, denied services to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed for flower arrangements for their wedding.

“We are confident that the [Washington] court will again see that no business should have a right to discriminate. Enforcing civil rights laws doesn’t show hostility to religion,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. It represented the couple along with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom for Faith and Justice, which represented Stutzman and Phillips, said in a statement, “Barronelle, like Jack, serves all customers but declines to create custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs. The Washington attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack.”

Photo: Activists at the Supreme Court earlier this month.

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