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Judge's Ruling Against Christian Florist Who Refused to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding Could Have Major Ramifications

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"A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions and surrender her livelihood is a government every American should fear."

A judge has ruled that a florist who came under fire after refusing to provide flowers for a gay couple's wedding can be personally sued and held liable by the Washington state attorney general's office.

Barronelle Stutzman was first sued by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in 2013 after her shop, Arlene's Flowers & Gifts, refused to provide service for a same-sex wedding; she cited her Christian faith as the reason for her decision.

"As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington," Ferguson said in a statement issued at the beginning of the legal ordeal. "Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation."

But Stutzman has doubled down and refused to provide service to same-sex couples, claiming that she had politely declined service to longtime client Robert Ingersoll in 2012 and that her decision is based on her biblical views.

"I just took his hands and said, 'I'm sorry. I cannot do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ," she once told reporters.

In the latest move in the ongoing case, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom said in a ruling last week that the state may bring the lawsuit against Stutzman that accuses her of violating the Consumer Protection Act, writing that the law "supports both individual and corporate liability."

She can also be sued for allegedly violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

With her trial set for March 23, the florist could risk personal financial liability and, as the Christian Post reported, "potential loss of her business," though her attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, are continuing to fight back in court.

The organization argues that Stutzman did not discriminate against Ingersoll and his partner Curt Freed, as she had served Ingersoll numerous times in the past. Additionally, the firm claims that it is improper to personally hold Stutzman liable.

"Barronelle and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are not willing to promote any and all messages," Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristen Waggoner said, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

She added, "A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions and surrender her livelihood is a government every American should fear."

In addition to Ferguson's lawsuit, Stutzman was also sued by the couple in question through their representation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ferguson is seeking a permanent injunction that would force Stutzman to provide services for same-sex nuptials, the Associated Press reported.

(H/T: Christian Post)

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