The Richland florist who was sued by the state last month for refusing to provide flowers for a gay customer’s wedding, is countersuing state Attorney General Robert Ferguson.
The state’s suit last month stemmed from a March 1 incident in which longtime customer Robert Ingersoll went to Arlene’s Flowers to discuss an order for flowers for his upcoming wedding. Owner Barronelle Stutzman refused him service, citing her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
The ACLU of Washington also later sued the florist. A court date has not been set in either of the two cases, which will be heard in Benton County Superior Court.
In her countersuit against the attorney general filed on Thursday, Stutzman said because of her Christian faith, she could not in good conscience facilitate a same-sex wedding by using “her creative skills to personally craft floral arrangements to decorate the wedding.”
“The attorney general’s attempt to use state law to compel her and Arlene’s Flowers to do so violates the state and federal constitutions,” the suit said.
JD Bristol, Stutzman’s attorney, said his client is exercising her right under the federal Civil Rights Act, which allows her to file a claim, not against the state but a state agency, if she believes an action by that agency violates her Constitutional rights.
He said the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based conservative legal group that works on behalf of clients mostly in cases involving religious conscience, has assigned several attorneys to work on the case.