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Arlene’s Flowers, a Washington based floral arrangement store, has recently found itself under fire after being sued for refusal of service to a gay couple. When shop owner Baronelle Stutzman refused to create floral arrangements for the wedding of soon to be married couple Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll, she actively went against a Washington state anti-discrimination law that prevents the turning away of customers based on sexual orientation.
Stutzman, an active member of the Southern Baptist Church, believes in the notion that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman. Stutzman’s defense for turning away the couple was that her actions were protected by her right to religious freedom.
This case, or rather Stutzman’s defense for turning away gay couples, is an act of both malicious and negligent obedience. Her actions defy the notion of legalism, and most definitely show a lack of professionalism at Arlene’s Flowers.
Stutzman’s actions are malicious in the way that she tried to exploit the law of religious protection. Religious protection laws have always been set in place so that people who are in practice of religious faith are not discriminated against themselves. The “religious protection” defense has been a common argument for turning away gay couples in many practices, but most laws and areas do not explicitly state that it is acceptable to deny service based on sexuality.
This is also negligent obedience in the way that it goes against due care and basic rights for all citizens. In both a legal and moral standpoint, all citizens should have the same basic rights and protections, and therefore cannot be turned away based on sexuality.
Broken down from a utilitarian perspective, every person’s chance for happiness is equal. Stutzman’s act of discrimination is both morally and professionally unethical.