Lambda Legal Celebrates Key Victory Affirming LGBT Rights in Flower Shop Discrimination Case

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February 16, 2017

(Seattle, Washington, February 16, 2016) –The Washington Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling rejecting an attempt to create an LGBT exception to Washington State’s non-discrimination law. The court unanimously rejected the arguments of a florist who refused on religious grounds to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding.

“The Washington Supreme Court today confirmed a simple principle: no business has the right to discriminate against LGBT people for any reason,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, Director of Law and Policy for Lambda Legal and co-author of the group’s friend-of-the-court brief in this case. “Indeed, every court that has considered the same arguments brought by the florist in this case has come to the same conclusion: the Constitution does not provide the right to harm other people based on your religious beliefs. We are thrilled that the court has rejected every single argument offered by this florist’s attorneys to justify discrimination and congratulate the ACLU and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on this important victory.”

In the ruling, the judges wrote:  “We agree with Ingersoll and Freed that ‘[t]his case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.’ As every other court to address the question has concluded, public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace. Were we to carve out a patchwork of exceptions for ostensibly justified discrimination, that purpose would be fatally undermined.”

“We are proud to have worked with Daniel J. Shih and Lindsey G. Eccles of the firm Susman Godfrey on this case in our joint representation of Disability Rights Washington, El Centro de la Raza, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, PFLAG Seattle, Pride Foundation, QLaw Association of Washington, South Asian Bar Association of Washington and Washington Women Lawyers,” Pizer added.

Read the Court’s unanimous decision here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/arlene_wa_20170216_opinion

Read Lambda Legal’s friend-of-the-court brief here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/arlene_wa_20160208_amicus

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Contact Info

Lambda Legal Contact:  Tom Warnke 213-382-7600 x247; Cell: 213-841-4503; Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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