Main | Friday, April 26, 2013

WASHINGTON: GOP Introduces Bill To Legalize Anti-Gay Business Discrimination

In response to the lawsuits against a local florist, the Washington state GOP yesterday introduced a bill that would allow businesses to refuse any customer on the basis of "sincerely held religious beliefs."
The measure would not apply to the denial of services to people under a protected class under federal law, such as race, religion or disability. [Sponsor Sen. Sharon] Brown said the measure seeks to protect people or religious organizations from legal persecution. "There's a glaring lack of protection for religion in state law," she said. Also signing on to the bill were Sens. Janea Holmquist Newbry, Mike Hewitt, Jim Honeyford, Don Benton, Barbara Bailey, Mike Padden, John Braun, John Smith, Ann Rivers, and Linda Evans Parlette. The bill has not yet been referred to a committee or scheduled for a public hearing, and is not likely to before the regular legislative session ends on Sunday. However, if a special session is called, as expected, the bill could be heard during that time.
The bill has the backing of the anti-gay Washington Family Policy Institute. Openly gay state Sen. Ed  Murray reacts: "What they're really going after is civil rights legislation from decades ago that settled the question of who gets to sit at a lunch counter and who doesn't get to sit at a lunch counter. It's a wake up call to gays and lesbians. The fight doesn't end. It's like choice. It's always under attack. Gay and lesbians are in the same situation."

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