Gay couple in Washington state wins legal battle against florist who cited religion to refuse doing their wedding
On Thursday, the nine-member Washington state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a florist in Richland had violated the state's anti-discrimination and consumer-protection laws when she refused to provide the flowers for a gay couple's 2013 wedding, citing her religious belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, can stop selling flowers to any wedding or sell to all weddings, but not discriminate on sexual orientation, the court ruled.
Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers, had sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, whom she knew were a gay couple, for years. But she drew a line at doing the flowers for their wedding. The couple sued, backed by the state attorney general and the ACLU, and won in lower court. Stutzman's lawyer, Kristen Waggoner, said they will appeal the closely watched case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sturtzman had argued that forcing her to cater to a same-sex wedding would violate her religious freedom and also her First Amendment rights, calling her floral arrangements artist expression. The court rejected both arguments, "emphatically," Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud wrote in her 59-page ruling. "We agree with Ingersoll and Freed that 'this case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases were about access to sandwiches.'" The court cited a case from New Mexico where a photographer tried the artistic expression defense for not photographing a same-sex wedding, and lost. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take his case in 2014. The similar case of a baker from Colorado is pending before the court, however.
The Washington ruling is "a kind of case that hasn't come up before," University of Washington constitutional law professor Hugh Spitzer tells The New York Times, explaining that the legal principles are firmly settled for interracial marriage, business law, and creative expression. Fully extending those rights to same-sex couples is notable, he added, "but the principles are not new." Peter Weber
If you heard talk about Russian dressing on Tuesday, this testy exchange between White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, is probably why.
Ryan was reminding Spicer of all the Russia-related news the White House is dealing with — the scuttled Sally Yates testimony, President Trump's widely dismissed claims he was wiretapped at Trump Tower, the broader Russia investigation — and Spicer cut it, rejecting the premise. "No, we don't 'have' that," he said. "I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there's not a connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection."
Nevertheless, Ryan persisted. Spicer selectively insisted that everyone has dismissed reports of Trump-Russia collusion, despite the ongoing FBI investigation, and told Ryan, "I'm sorry that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head." He accused her of pursuing an "agenda" and ignoring "facts," and when she changed subjects to ask about a White House visit by Condoleezza Rice, Spicer accused Ryan of being "hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays," adding again: "Please, stop shaking your head again."
Even though he said "please," Spicer instructing a reporter — especially a black female reporter — on how she should gesture or behave rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including Ryan.
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) March 28, 2017
Hillary Clinton, in a rare public speech Tuesday, said Ryan "was patronized and cut off as she tried to ask a question," threw in Bill O'Reilly's jab at Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and said: "Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride." At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake noted that Spicer has clashed with male reporters plenty of times, but this "seemed to venture into different territory." And oddly, he added, it was "the mere premise that Russia is an issue for the White House seemed to set Spicer off." Peter Weber
Rep. Maxine Waters multitasked on Tuesday night, dressing down Fox News host Bill O'Reilly while at the same time sharing an empowering message for women.
On Tuesday morning, Fox & Friends had shown a clip of Waters speaking out against President Trump. "I didn't hear a word she said," O'Reilly told the Fox News morning hosts. "I was looking at the James Brown wig." Waters hit back later that day. "I'm a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated," she said on All In with Chris Hayes. "I cannot be undermined."
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) March 29, 2017
Speaking directly to the women watching, Waters implored them not to "allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are, do what you do, and let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country." When a woman "stands up and speaks truth to power," people will attempt to "put her down," Waters added. "I am not going to be put down, I am not going anywhere. I am going to stay on the issues." For his part, O'Reilly told Time his comment about her hair was "dumb. I apologize." Catherine Garcia
In a dizzying display of athleticism, 18-year-old Andri Ragettli landed the world's first Quad Cork 1800 on Monday, soaring 38 yards while making five full rotations and four head-under-body flips.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 29, 2017
Ragetlli made history while at the Suzuki Nine Royals 2017 competition in Italy, and said it was "crazy," adding, "I'm stoked to land it." Catherine Garcia
"Let's talk about the facts tonight, the facts about this White House and those close to it and ties to Russia," CNN's Anderson Cooper said Tuesday night. "We want to show you a flow chart just so everybody can follow along, because it's confusing." Even after he runs down the verified connections between Russian interests and Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, and Roger Stone, you may still be scratching your head and noticing that there's a lot of smoke but no raging fire.
Cooper agrees. "So those are some facts. There are a lot more," he said. "The ones we listed, they might be legal, they might be totally legal connections, or nefarious — we don't know in some cases. But we do know they exist." Stay tuned, presumably. Peter Weber
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired its final episode 21 years ago, but the bond between the cast members remains strong.
Alfonso Ribeiro shared a photo on Instagram of himself alongside former co-stars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Will Smith, Daphne Maxwell-Reid, and Joseph Marcell. "Always amazing to spend an afternoon with my Fresh Prince family," Ribeiro wrote. "Wishing that James Avery was still with us to make this complete." Avery, who played patriarch Philip Banks on the show, died in 2013.
There were a few faces missing in the photo — notably DJ Jazzy Jeff, who portrayed Smith's best friend and was often seen being chucked out of the Banks' home by Uncle Phil, and Ross Bagley, who played Nicky, the youngest member of the Banks family — but this photo evoked enough nostalgia to make even the most casual fan break out into the Carlton Dance. Catherine Garcia
If you watched Fox News' prime-time shows on Tuesday night, you saw Sean Hannity discussing Hillary Clinton and uranium — as requested by President Trump; Bill O'Reilly criticizing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), whom he apologized to earlier in the day for making fun of her hair; and Tucker Carlson complaining about how Democrats are being mean to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). If you watched Shepard Smith Reporting on Tuesday afternoon, you heard about Nunes, too, but in a pretty different context.
Smith was discussing reports that the White House had tried to severely limit the Trump-Russia testimony of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whose scheduled hearing on Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee was canceled by Nunes hours after Yates' lawyer informed the White House that Yates did not plan to restrict her testimony unless the White House publicly demanded it.
"The Washington Post newspaper broke the story, and Fox News now confirms the Justice Department sent a warning to the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates," Smith said. "Fox News obtained the letters showing the department told Yates earlier this month that she could not discuss a great deal of her possible testimony without permission from the White House." Smith duly noted the Trump administration's denial: "The White House calls The Washington Post's reporting 'entirely false.' It also says it has no problems with her testifying. That hearing was tentatively planned for today."
"It's all very complicated," Smith said, and that at least seems indisputable. Nunes went to the White House late March 21 to view some classified documents, then said the next day he's seen proof that Trump transition communications had incidentally and legally been swept up in surveillance of foreign subjects, briefed Trump, and still hasn't shared the material with his colleagues. He is now facing bipartisan calls for him to share his material with his colleagues or step down; on Tuesday he told ABC News that he "will never reveal sources and methods," not even with fellow Intelligence Committee members.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 28, 2017
Prosecutors in California say two anti-abortion activists invaded the privacy of 14 medical providers by secretly filming them during meetings.
David Daleiden of Davis, California, and Sandra Merritt of San Jose, who run the Center for Medical Progress in Irvine, California, made undercover films of themselves attempting to purchase fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, prosecutors said, filming 14 people in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and El Dorado counties from October 2013 to July 2015. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Daleiden and Merritt made up a fake bioresearch company to use as a ruse in order to set up meetings with the providers, and they have been charged with 15 felonies.
In January 2016, Daleiden and Merritt were indicted on similar charges in Texas. A grand jury had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after it found that the organization hadn't done anything wrong, the grand jury indicted Daleiden and Merritt; in July, the charges were dropped when prosecutors decided the grand jury overstepped its authority. Daleiden told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday night the charges are "bogus." Catherine Garcia