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Washington: Florist Declines Offer To Settle LGBT Discrimination Lawsuit

Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding, has declined to accept an offer from the Washington state attorney general to settle her discrimination case by paying a $2,000 fine and agreeing to sell bouquets for same-sex ceremonies in the future.

In a letter to the Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Stutzman wrote that gay couples are allowed to act on their views, but “because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.”

From the Washington Post:

Stutzman, 70, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, says she plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that she broke a state anti-discrimination law.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom on Wednesday rejected arguments that Stutzman’s actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion.

The First Amendment protects religious beliefs but not necessarily actions based on those beliefs, Ekstrom ruled. The state has the authority to prohibit discrimination, and Stutzman can be held personally liable for damages if she breaks bias laws, the judge said.

A gay couple and the state sued the florist, who could be required to pay damages and legal fees that far exceed the attorney general’s offer.

Ferguson said Thursday that his goal wasn’t Stutzman’s financial ruin. He offered to settle the case for $2,000 — the fine for violations of the law — and a $1 payment for legal fees if she would agree not to discriminate against same-sex couples.

“My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a news release.

Stutzman becomes a national martyr in 3, 2, 1…

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