US Supreme Court turns down case of florist who refused to service same-sex couple

The US Supreme Court refused to take up the case of a Washington state florist who refused to sell arrangements for a same-sex wedding

Washington (AFP) – The US Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to reconsider the case against a Washington state florist who was fined for refusing to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds.

The decision follows the top US court’s June 4 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who had been found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of his Christian beliefs.

The top US court sent the case — involving florist Barronelle Stutzman, who said her Christian convictions barred her from selling a wedding floral arrangement to a same-sex couple — back to the Washington state supreme court for further consideration.

“Great news for freedom today!” said the Alliance Defending Freedom, which backs the florist in the case. 

In refusing to take the case the US Supreme Court showed its reluctance to wade into a divisive social issue — how to balance the need of merchants to serve all clients equally with a respect for their deeply held religious beliefs.

On June 4, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker whose religious beliefs, the court said, had been treated with “clear and impermissible hostility” by the state’s Civil Rights Commission for refusing to prepare a cake for a same-sex couple.

However that was a narrow procedural ruling, and it did not definitively rule on whether a business can decline to serve same-sex couples based on religious views.