Supreme Court Leaves in Place ACLU Victory on Behalf of Same-Sex Couple Turned Away From Flower Shop

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
July 2, 2021 10:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today denied review of a case involving a same-sex couple turned away from a flower shop because they are LGBTQ. The case is Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington.

American Civil Liberties Union clients Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed asked a local flower shop to do the flowers for their wedding in 2013 and were refused service because they are a same-sex couple. Today’s decision lets stand the Washington State Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that the Constitution does not grant a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. In June, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in which the court refused to create a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

“Today the Supreme Court confirmed that LGBTQ people should receive equal service when they walk into a store,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer with the ACLU representing the couple and the director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Planning a wedding was a joyful time for Rob and Curt until they were refused service at their local flower shop. No one should walk into a store and have to wonder whether they will be turned away because of who they are. Preventing that kind of humiliation and hurt is exactly why we have nondiscrimination laws. Yet 60 percent of states still don’t have express protections for LGBTQ people like the kind in Washington State. Our work isn’t over yet.”

Robert Ingersoll said, “After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead. We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

In 2017, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that turning Ingersoll and Freed away violated Washington’s law against discrimination and that the Constitution did not give the flower shop a right to discriminate. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, a similar case involving a bakery that refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple for their wedding. The high court ruled in favor of the bakery based on the way the state of Colorado had handled the case but did not decide the broader questions. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Washington State Supreme Court reaffirmed its earlier decision in favor of Ingersoll and Freed.

For more information on Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington:

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