Supreme Court declines appeal from florist who refused service for same-sex couples

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear a case over a Washington state florist's refusal to service a wedding for a same-sex couple, letting stand a state court's ruling that the shop had engaged in unlawful discrimination over sexual orientation.

The move was surprising for a court with a 6-3 conservative majority that has seemed eager to wade into legal fights over whether nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people are at odds with the First Amendment.

At least four justices must vote in favor of granting a petition for review in order for the court to hear a pending case.

According to a tally published by the court, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas voted in favor of taking up the case.

The lawsuit was brought in 2013 by Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who were turned away by Arlene's Flowers, a flower shop in Richland, Wash., when looking for a florist for their wedding.

"After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we canceled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again," Ingersoll said in a statement. "We had a small ceremony at home instead. We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented the couple, applauded the Supreme Court's move, saying it "confirmed that LGBTQ people should receive equal service when they walk into a store."

“No one should walk into a store and have to wonder whether they will be turned away because of who they are," Tabacco Mar said in a statement. "Preventing that kind of humiliation and hurt is exactly why we have nondiscrimination laws. Yet 60 percent of states still don’t have express protections for LGBTQ people like the kind in Washington State. Our work isn’t over yet.”

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