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Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington

Case Seeking Religious Exemptions from LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Laws

Key Date: February 21, 2020
Status: Pending before U.S. Supreme Court
Legal Team: Alliance Defending Freedom
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

Arlene’s Flowers Case Overview:

Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington concerns a business owner in Washington who denied service to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation, seeking a religious exemption to a longstanding non-discrimination law in Washington prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The business, a flower shop, is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that works aggressively to restrict and roll back non-discrimination protections and basic equality for LGBT Americans. The same-sex couple is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Latest in the Case:

On June 6, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court for a second time unanimously upheld the lower court ruling that affirmed the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

The Alliance Defending Freedom appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court on September 11, 2019.

Case History:

Every lower court that has heard the case has affirmed that the flower shop is in no way entitled to a religious exemption from the Washington nondiscrimination law – and that businesses open to the public must be open to all. Here’s an overview of key dates and rulings in Arlene’s Flowers:

  • April 18, 2013: A same-sex couple denied service by Arlene’s Flowers works with the ACLU to file a complaint in Benton County Superior Court, seeking a court order barring the florist from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation and damages for the violation of the couple’s rights. The case is referred to as Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers.
  • February 18, 2015: Benton County Superior Court judge rules that Arlene’s Flowers violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • November 15, 2016: The Washington Supreme Court grants review in the case and hears oral argument.
  • February 16, 2017: The Washington Supreme Court unanimously rules in favor of the same-sex couple and finds that Arlene’s Flowers violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination by refusing to serve a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation.
  • July 21, 2017: Attorneys representing Arlene’s Flowers file a petition for cert. to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case. Just days before the Supreme Court granted review in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. 
  • December 1, 2017: U.S. Supreme Court Justices conference on the cert. petition in Arlene’s Flowers but take no action.
  • June 7, 2018U.S. Supreme Court Justices conference on the cert. petition in Arlene’s Flowers but take no action.
  • June 14, 2018U.S. Supreme Court Justices conference on the cert. petition and can take action as soon as Monday, June 18.
  • June 25, 2018: The Supreme Court grants the petition, vacates the lower court’s decision, and remands the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
  • June 6, 2019: The Washington Supreme Court again unanimously upholds the lower court ruling, affirming the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • September 11, 2019: Plaintiffs file a cert. petition for the second time with the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • January 10, 2020: The U.S. Supreme Court distributes this case for conference but takes no action. It later distributes the case for its conferences on January 17, January 24, and February 21, 2020.

Last Updated April 8, 2020


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