Rob Ingersoll and his partner, Curt, had been sending each other flowers using the same florist for years, but it wasn’t until the couple asked her to do the flower arrangements for their wedding that the florist said it was against her religion.
I said, “I could not do it because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” Barronelle Stuzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, wrote on her company’s Facebook wall.
Her Facebook message came as a response to an initial message posted by Ingersoll on his personal Facebook page expressing his anger on Stuzman, whom he thought a friend.
Stuzman’s explanation of why she refused to service the gay couple has garnered 585 comments, 125 ‘Likes’ and 105 Shares.
Some comments are in support of, “Thank you for standing tall and not doing the wedding,” wrote Facebook user Melanie King on the flower shop’s wall. But a majority of the comments condemned Stuzman’s decision.
“She may have a right to her beliefs, but that doesn't stop her from being the lowest form of loathsome hypocrite. If she had no problem selling him flowers for years, she should have no problem with his marriage. Wrap it in the bible all you wish - she's a liar, a phony and a hypocrite,” user Diana Green Knight.
The florist said the blowback has escalated to threats of violence:
“I've had hate mail. I've had people who want to burn my building, I've had people say they'll never shop here again and tell all their friends. And I've had other people say thanks for standing up for your convictions and we'll shop here and we'll back you in any way we can,” Stuzman told NBC KNDO 23.
Jill Mullens, gay rights advocate and attorney, told NBC KNDO 23 that Stuzman violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, found in RCW 49.60.030, the Freedom from discrimination - Declaration of civil rights.
For his part, Ingersoll said he’s not sure if he’ll file a lawsuit, but he has already been approached by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“It came as a shock to me because I've had a nine year relationship with Barronelle and have never thought there was a reason that she wouldn't,” Ingersoll adding their wedding is still scheduled to take place on Sept. 15.