STATE Sen. Sharon Brown is out of sync with progressive Washington voters with a bill that would allow businesses to deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The Kennewick Republican introduced Senate Bill 5927 in the waning days of the legislative session. The bill remains in the Law and Justice committee.
The upcoming special session should not include a hearing on this piece of legislation. It raises civil rights arguments long settled. Protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity were codified into state law in 2006.
The bill offers misguided sympathy for Brown’s constituent, a Richland florist who refused wedding services to a gay couple because of her religious objection to gay marriage. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the florist.
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Same-sex marriage was approved by Washington voters and with bipartisan support in the Legislature.
Yet, Brown would argue that is tantamount to religious interference.
Nice try. Couching discrimination by businesses against gays as an exercise of “religious freedom” is a fraudulent bid to move the state backward on civil rights.
Currently, under state law, it’s illegal for businesses to refuse to sell goods, merchandise and services to any person because of their sexual orientation. That’s the way it should stay.
The proposed measure would not apply to the denial of services to people under a federally protected class, such as race, religion or disability.
Brown’s views on this must evolve. The same goes for her bill’s co-sponsors: Republican Sens. Janea Holmquist Newbry, Mike Hewitt, Jim Honeyford, Don Benton, Barbara Bailey, Mike Padden, John Braun, John Smith and Ann Rivers.