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Controversial florist sues Wash. state, says she 'will not wilt'

The Richland florist who refused to sell flowers for a same sex-couple’s wedding has filed a counter suit.

Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronnelle Stutzman says she "will not wilt." She argues there are plenty of other shops in the Tri-Cities that could cater to a gay or lesbian wedding. 

But Stutzman's lawyers say she’s refusing that business because of her religious beliefs. Her lead counsel, Dale Schowengerdt says, there is no reason to use the state’s anti-discrimination law to force her to provide flowers for this ceremony. In fact, he says her religious rights and freedom are rooted in the state’s constitution. 

This is now the third lawsuit in the case. Washington state's attorney general and the flower-seeking gay couple have both sued.

"As an individual, she (Stutzman) is free to hold religious beliefs but as a business owner, she may not violate our state's laws against discrimination," said the attorney general in a written statement. 

The Richland case has garnered national and even international attention, but two other similar instances are popping up in Oregon. A Portland bakery and another bakery near Hood River have refused to bake for same-sex weddings citing religious reasons.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.