US: Florist who refused to serve same-sex wedding rejects legal settlement

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A florist in the state of Washington who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding has rejected a proposed legal settlement.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C Ekstrom ruled earlier this week that Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers violated consumer protections by refusing to sell flowers to a longtime customer for his wedding.

Robert Ingersoll and his partner Curt Freed had been customers at the store for years, but Ms Stutzman told them she wouldn’t provide wedding flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ”.

However, despite claiming in the media that the lawsuit could leave her destitute and bankrupt, Ms Stutzman has rejected an offer to settle the case for a small amount of money.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson had said this week: “I am prepared to settle this matter for a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation.”

Ms Stutzman responded in an open letter: “Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money.

“I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honour God in doing what I do best is more important.

“You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.

“I pray that you reconsider your position.”