Friday, April 19, 2013


Where does it end?


The headline over the AP story reads: Florist sued for refusing service to gay couple. The short article may be read at and comes complete with video.

I understand why it is illegal to discriminate against a person if you own a lodging or eatery, especially on a an interstate highway (e.g., I-5, I-95, I-10, I-94), but a FLORIST SHOP?

I don’t know WHY the florist shop staff refused the client service, especially since, according to the piece, the clients were two long-time customers. Was it OK for one homosexual customer to buy flowers for the other as long as they were bachelors?

For whatever reason, the florist elected to deny service to the two men; the ACLU then filed suit on their behalf claiming discrimination. I don’t think there is any question of discrimination, but could it be legal discrimination?

Washington State has a law making it illegal for businesses to refuse to sell goods and services to any person because of sexual orientation.

Why there a law specifically prohibiting discrimination against this group or that is needed when a single anti-discrimination law covering all discrimination makes more sense to this scrivener.

(I wonder: Is it illegal for a potential customer to discriminate against a shop owner or employee because that person falls into a category the client dislikes? Good for the goose, good for the gander, as it were.)

If the florist shop was the only florist shop in town, I could understand the problem. A quick Dogpile search for “Florist shops in Richland WA” turned up five shops, including the one that refused service to the two men. Two are in close proximity to the shop in question.

As a risk management practitioner I have the right to refuse a contract with any organization for any reason. Perhaps I don’t like the product or a middle manager with whom I might be required to deal. Maybe I don’t want to work in Kenai Alaska in January. That’s discrimination. It’s also my preference. (I would love to go to Kenai – in June or July, but January? Never.)

Again, I understand that certain businesses must, by law, accept all potential customers.

The anti-discrimination laws started, if memory serves, to open up restaurants and lodging on interstate and “U.S.”-numbered highways and facilities whose primary clients were interstate travelers; that’s how the Federal camel got its nose into the tent.

The flower shop being sued is not on an interstate route nor even a major highway. The two other “close proximity” shops are equally distant from interstate and “U.S.”-numbered highways.

I have to wonder why a small business owner with close proximity competition must be forced to cater to an undesired – for any reason - clientele .

By the same token, after looking at the store’s Web site and the prices the store is asking, why would the plaintiffs want to continue giving the store their custom?

A bit of trivia. “US” highways such as US 1 and US 101 maintain their numbers from state-to-state by agreement among the states through which the road passes. “U.S.” highways are not federal highways, although states receive federal (tax) assistance to maintain them. Even interstate highways, I-something, are state highways, albeit with 95% funding by our tax dollars. The only “federal” roads begin and end on federal property – forests, military bases, parks, and the like.

No comments: