Barronelle Stuzman, the owner of Arlene's Flower Shop in Richland, Washington refused to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed. The couple planned to use Arlene's Flowers as their florist for their planned wedding in September, being loyal customers, buying flowers from the shop during the entire nine-years they have been together. They were shocked when Stutzman, turned them away because of their sexuality. Stuzmand stated on her Facebook page: 'He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, 'I am sorry. I can't do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. 'We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed that was the end of the story'. Ingersoll recounted to the Tri-City Herald:'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. 'It really hurt because it was somebody I knew. 'We laid awake all night Saturday. It was eating at our souls. There was never a question she'd be the one to do our flowers. She does amazing work'. Ingersoll recounted his experience on his Facebook page, from where it went viral. Stuzman insisted she is not anti-gay: 'We hire gay people. I have friends that are gay, that wasn't the issue. The issue is that I just didn't want to participate in the marriage'. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington in December after a majority of voters approved Referendum 74 in the November general election. A majority of voters in the Mid-Columbia rejected it. In Benton County, 63 percent voted against it and in Franklin County 69 percent rejected it. The law exempts religious organizations from having to perform same-sex weddings, but doesn't allow the same exemptions for businesses. A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office told the Tri-City Herald that Washington law doesn't allow discrimination based on sexual orientation as long as the same service is provided to a straight couple. 'Washington's anti-discrimination law would not allow the florist to discriminate against the same-sex couple. 'If they sell wedding flowers to any other opposite sex couple, they must sell flowers to a same-sex couple'. 'I'm not a crusader. I'm not an activist. I'm not someone who wants to be in the limelight but it's kind of pushed [me] there'. Ingersoll professed that altought they have received much support, the attention drawn to their case means he and his partner may face a backlash. 'People are going to hate us. That is sad and makes me unhappy. 'I know people are going to come out of the woodwork and going to be hateful. I don't say hateful things. I'm not that kind of person'.
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