After hearing about all the laws states have recently passed and proposed that encourage discrimination based on sexual orientation, it's easy to get discouraged about the future of LGBT rights in this country. But the Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers ruling in Washington provides a welcome break from all the anti-LGBT bills. And thankfully, Washington isn't the only state to further LGBT rights in recent years.
Arlene's Flowers had declined to provide flowers for a wedding between two men, Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, on the grounds that same-sex marriage went against the owner Baronnelle Stutzman's religion. Ingersoll, Freed, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Stutzman, claiming she violated Washington consumer protection and non-discrimination laws. The county court ruled last year that refusing to serve an LGBT wedding was illegal, so Stutzman took the case to the state's supreme court, which unanimously upheld the ruling on Thursday.
"If this case were about an interracial couple we wouldn’t be here today," ACLU attorney Michael Scott said at a news conference. "They’re sending a message that I think is loud and clear."
Here are several other states that have also recently sent the message that it's not OK to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation.
1Colorado Also Ruled That Businesses Can't Refuse To Serve LGBT People
In a case similar to Washington's, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 that it was illegal for a cake shop to decline business with same-sex couples on religious grounds.
2Six States And Washington, D.C. Have Banned Conversion Therapy For Minors
Conversion therapy, the practice of attempting to make someone straight, can be extremely detrimental to LGBT youth. Recognizing this, between 2012 and 2016, six states (along with Washington, D.C.) banned conversion therapy for minors: New York, Vermont, California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Illinois.
3Title IX Now Covers Trans People
The Department of Education ruled in 2014 that trans students are protected from discrimination under Title IX, setting the foundation for cases like the one below.
4A Federal Court Protected Trans People's Right To Use The School Bathrooms They Prefer
Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that a trans boy's right to use the men's bathroom at his Virginia school was protected by Title IX.
5New York Protected Trans People From Discrimination
Last year, an order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added gender identity to the state's anti-discrimination legislation, which means it's illegal to discriminate against trans people seeking employment, loans, education, and other accommodations. Nineteen states and D.C. already had such laws in place.
6Trans People Gained The Right To Hormone Treatment In Prison
The Department of Justice ruled in 2015 that it was illegal for a Georgia prison to deny a trans inmate hormone treatment.
7Oregon Legally Recognized Non-Binary As A Gender
An Oregon circuit court ruled last year that a resident could use the gender "non-binary" on legal documents, recognizing that not everybody fits within the gender binary.