After siding with a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sent back to lower courts a similar dispute over a florist who declined to create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding based on her Christian beliefs.
The justices threw out a 2017 ruing by Washington state’s Supreme Court that Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in the city of Richland, about 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Seattle, had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law and a consumer protection measure.
The court ordered the top Washington state court to revisit the case in light of its ruling on June 4 in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who similarly cited his Christian beliefs in refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
USA Today reports:
Rather than agree to hear the case of Arlene’s Flowers next term or deny its owner’s appeal outright, the high court sent the case back to Washington’s Supreme Court to determine if Barronelle Stutzman was treated fairly by state courts.
That leaves unresolved the central dispute between proponents of gay rights and religious objectors: whether anti-discrimination laws in 22 states can require creative artists to serve same-sex weddings against their beliefs.
The court’s 7-2 ruling earlier this month in the case of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, did not resolve whether an array of same-sex marriage opponents can refuse commercial services available to opposite-sex couples.
The ACLU reacts via press release:
“The Supreme Court today asked the Washington courts to re-examine our clients’ case in light of the recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop,” said James Esseks, director of ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project. “To be clear, the court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case’s merits. We are confident that the Washington State Supreme Court will rule once again in favor of the same-sex couple, and reaffirm its decision that no business has a right to discriminate. Our work to ensure LGBT equality is the law and the norm in all 50 states will continue.”