Washington Supreme Court Unanimously Affirms: Religion Is No Excuse for Anti-LGBT Discrimination

By Adam Polaski • February 16, 2017 • 11:41 am

Today the Washington Supreme Court released its ruling in Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, a case that questioned at its core whether a person’s individual religious beliefs could be used as an excuse to discriminate against a same-sex couple. It concerns a florist who refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding, which the florist says would have violated her religious beliefs. The ACLU represents the same-sex couple in the case, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.

The florist in the case is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT organization that just this week was officially classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It sought a religious exemption from the Washington State non-discrimination law protecting LGBT residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The decision was straightforward – a unanimous ruling based on the long-standing law. The Court wrote:

“The State of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case – refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding – constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the WLAD.”

Washington State also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations – and it has for more than 10 years. This year, however, opponents of LGBT equality are working to carve these protections out, specifically working on a ballot initiative to roll back these protections. It is vital that we stop this discriminatory ballot initiative, particularly cruel because it seeks to eliminate protections that have long existed.

Today’s ruling is one small example of how these public accommodations laws protect Washingtonians from discrimination, and it should inspire many to work harder than ever to uphold transgender protections. Learn more from Washington Won’t Discriminate, the campaign working against the anti-LGBT ballot initiative. Freedom for All Americans is proud to support this campaign.


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