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U.S. Supreme Court will not rule on Washington florist who refused gay customers—for now

FILE: U.S. Supreme Court
Flickr Photo/Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0)/
The U.S. Supreme Court will not decide whether it's legal for business owners to refuse service to gay customers because of religious beliefs.

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will not weigh in on an LGBTQ rights case regarding a Washington state florist.

Now the Arlene’s Flowers case, as it's come to be known, will go back to Washington's Supreme Court, which has already ruled that the owner broke the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The case stems from a 2013 wedding for a gay couple in Richland, Washington. The couple's longtime florist, Arlene’s Flowers, refused to do the couple's wedding arrangements based on religious beliefs.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted a similar issue when it ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The U.S. Supreme Court's majority opinion concluded that the baker experienced "hostility" from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission because of his religious beliefs. 

In light of the Colorado ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back for review under Washington's court system. 

According to the Tri-City Herald, the Washington florist, Baronelle Stutzman, told reporters this morning that Washington state's Attorney General was "hostile" to her religious beliefs. Washington's Gov. Jay Inslee, however, said he wasn't worried about the Washington Supreme Court reviewing the Arlene's Flowers case. 

"Unlike the recent decision in the Colorado case, in Washington there was never any indication of religious bias or hostility in our pursuit to protect consumers from discrimination," Inslee said in a statement. "I have full confidence that the state will prevail once again."

What remains unresolved in both cases: whether business owners can legally cite religious beliefs in discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation.