QUEER VOICES
03/30/2015 04:08 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Barronelle Stutzman, Washington Florist Who Discriminated Against Gay Couple, Ordered To Pay Fine

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The Washington florist who turned away a pair of gay grooms-to-be who sought flowers for their wedding has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $1 for court costs and fees.

Arlene's Flowers and Gifts owner Barronelle Stutzman was given 60 days to pay Washington state for discriminating against Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who officially tied the knot in 2013, the Associated Press reported.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office requested the fine, told the AP he was "pleased" by the ruling, noting, "My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination."

Less pleased, of course, was Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who was part of the team representing Stutzman. She argued that the imposed fine plus additional penalties, fees and costs will "financially devastate Barronelle’s business and personal assets -- including taking this 70-year-old grandmother’s retirement and personal savings."

Calling the award a government threat to Christians, she told Christian Post and WND in a statement that the ruling provided a very specific message: "Surrender your religious liberty and free speech rights, or face personal and professional ruin."

In February, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom found that Stutzman had violated consumer protections when she turned away Ingersoll and Freed, citing her religious beliefs. The couple was protected by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits bias based on sexual orientation, the court ruled at the time.

In the wake of the February ruling, Ferguson offered Stutzman a settlement that would have spared the florist some of the legal costs, but she promptly refused, according to the Christian Post.

"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," Stutzman wrote to Ferguson in a letter, according to the report. "But my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important."

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