Executive Director of LPWA Quoted in US News Re: Lawsuit Against Florist Refusing to Decorate Gay Wedding

Posted April 10, 2013 in US News

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday a lawsuit against an eastern Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex marriage ceremony. Some conservative and libertarian supporters of same-sex marriage say it’s a bad move.

According to a press release from Ferguson’s office, Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act in March when she informed a longtime client she would not provide flowers for his ceremony.

“As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a released statement. “Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

[READ: Gay Marriage Supporters Unfazed by Scalia’s ‘Absurd’ Comments]

Ferguson is seeking a permanent injunction requiring the shop to serve customers without regard to sexual orientation and a $2,000 fine for each violation of the law, according to the release.

Michael Pickens, executive director of the Libertarian Party of Washington State, told U.S. News that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposes Ferguson’s lawsuit.

“As a private business the florist should be able to chose who they sell their services to,” said Pickens, who described his gay uncles as “two of the most awesome people I know.”

The state government “shouldn’t be forcing businesses to sell products to someone,” Pickens said.

The rest of the article can be found here .

10 thoughts on “Executive Director of LPWA Quoted in US News Re: Lawsuit Against Florist Refusing to Decorate Gay Wedding

  1. Krzysztof Lesiak

    Motherfucker.

    It’s a private business, if they don’t want to serve gays they have the right to do so. Hell, if some hillbilly business in the Southland doesn’t want to serve blacks, they shouldn’t have to either. They won’t stay open for long, though. Government regulations are bullshit. The free market is the best regulator and protector against discrimination, not the omnipotent state.

  2. Dave Terry

    Is this the same Michael Pickens that writes a blog for the LP CA?

    In either event he speaks for all legitimate libertarians. Even as there are those elements who are trying to turn this into a “gay rights” issue vs “property rights” issue: the truth is, it is an issue of “individual rights” to associate and commit consensual ‘intercourse* or ‘enterprise with whomever one chooses

    *Noun
    Communication or dealings between individuals or groups: “everyday social intercourse”.

  3. Steve M

    A florist shop is an easy case to defend the right of a business to decide whom to do business with…. but suppose it was a major company such as Pacific Gas and Electric and they said we don’t sell gas or electricity to gays?

  4. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Don’t utility companies get special subsidies and/or tax breaks? If they do, I would consider that there would be certain parameters they’d be expected to work in, such as not discriminating.

    It’s a little like the church thing. If a church wants to keep its tax-exempt status, they’re supposed to stay away from politics. I’m
    not saying that’s right or wrong, but that seems to be the law.

  5. Marc Allan Feldman

    I think I can off a reasonable libertarian argument for anti-discrimination legislation. I begin with a story from the Jewish Midrash.

    “An unfortunate beggar once wandered into
    the evil city of Sodom and began going from door to door, begging for alms. To his surprise, every householder greeted him warmly and gave him a coin.

    Overjoyed, he rushed to the nearest store, hoping to purchase some food, his first meal in days. But the shopkeeper turned him away. The same thing repeated itself wherever the man proffered his coins. Eventually the poor man died of starvation. The clever Sodomites, who knew that this would happen, came running to retrieve their coins, upon which they had each thoughtfully marked their names.”

    In general, an individual has a right to sell food, or not sell food to whomever they choose. However, if there is an agreement, explicitly or implicitly, to cause injury to someone by refusing to a particular person or group of people, this would constitute an aggression against them.

  6. David Colborne

    In general, an individual has a right to sell food, or not sell food to whomever they choose. However, if there is an agreement, explicitly or implicitly, to cause injury to someone by refusing to a particular person or group of people, this would constitute an aggression against them.

    Which, of course, is exactly what happened in the Deep South (and Nevada – “Mississippi of the West”) during Jim Crow, which led to the most of the anti-discrimination laws we love to philosophically harp on in the first place. Effectively, you end up with two markets – one larger market that the privileged group all participates in, and then one smaller one that everyone can participate in. The result is higher prices and less product availability for those participating in the non-privileged market.

    The situation gets even worse when top tier distributors start making choices like this, which, again, also happened. The effects have been pretty well documented at this point, and they didn’t point to a market solution. If anything, they led to one of the most perverse, twisted cases of regulatory capture in American history, just behind the regulatory capture that institutionalized slavery.

    Because of this, I’m going to be honest – I support the right for business owners to do business with those they choose, but I do so tepidly enough where I’ll support just about every other right they might hold before that one.

  7. Marc Allan Feldman

    David,

    We all with “the right for business owners to do business with those they choose”. You left out the word “only”.

    The first question is whether a concerted effort by business owners to refuse to do business with an individual or a group constitutes aggression.

    If you agree, the second question is whether it is a proper role of government to enforce a law to prevent or punish such aggression.

  8. David Colborne

    First question: Generally speaking, yes, with caveats and exceptions for known criminals that don’t engage in commerce in good faith (check bouncers, counterfeiters, etc.).

    Second question: I don’t think the government has “proper roles”. It exists at the convenience of its citizens as an organization of last resort. Unfortunately, my imagination is failing me – I’d love for some other agency or mechanism to step in to prevent this sort of activity, but, when enough people choose to exclude a particular group from engaging in commerce, we know that they don’t just refuse to engage in commerce – they leverage their local governments to ensure that nobody else does, either. So, my first instinct is to nip this sort of behavior in the bud before the electorate decides they can impose it on the body politic.

    But I’m open to suggestions.

  9. Marc Allan Feldman

    David. It seems I agree with you. Which makes this a pretty lame comment.

  10. David Colborne

    Heh.

    The problem, of course, is that there are jerks in this world, and they tend to pop up in then least convenient places imaginable, no matter which philosophical or political ideal you cleave to. A big part of civilization and politics is finding ways to ensure that the jerks don’t end up running the place, then changing the rules on them when it looks like they found a weakness to exploit.

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