"Team Arlene's" met for its first Tri-City meeting Wednesday night. Backed by the Family Policy Institute, the group is hoping to take on the state in what it calls a ‘conscience issue.’
Close to 50 people filled the pews of Pasco's First Assembly Church. They were there to learn how they can change Washington law, allowing businesses to choose who they want to serve. They called Arlene's Flowers the ground zero to a debate that goes to the core of family values.
“This is a conscience issue, not a commerce issue,” said Joseph Backholm, Washington’s Family Policy Institute. “There are plenty of businesses willing to provide services. Washington State is big enough for people to get the goods and services they need without compelling individual business owners to do something inconsistent with their value system.”
The group said it will most likely come down to litigation and they're ready for a fight. Arlene's Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman was at Wednesday night's meeting, but declined comment.
Stutzman was sued by the Washington State Attorney General under the consumer protection act for her refusal to provide flowers to a customer based on his sexual orientation. Stutzman has counter-sued on the basis that she is protected by the U.S. Constitution.