New legislation would allow business owners to discriminate

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A recent bill has been introduced to Washington State Senate that would allow storeowners to discriminate against customers based on religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or a matter of conscience.

Known as Senate Bill 5927, it reads, “The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, philosophical belief, or matter of conscience may not be burdened, unless the government proves that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restricting means to further that interest.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued an anti-discrimination suit earlier this year after a gay couple was refused service by a flower shop when attempting to purchase product for their wedding. The florist said she couldn’t sell to them “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

After the suit was filed, Senator Sharon Brown and 11 of 23 Republicans in the Senate introduced Bill 5927 in response. 

Spokesperson for Equal Rights Washington Josh Friedes told 429Magazine that, “The bill is not likely to ever be passed.” He explains that there is little support within the senate, including Republicans who supported marriage equality legislation last year. 

“People outside the state of Washington should not over-react,” he said. “We have strong support against the law among public, business community, and legislators.” 

Friedes said it’s a “publicity stunt by the far right organizations in Washington State.”

Last year, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State by a 28-21 vote.

“This bill is not about religious liberty,” said Friedes, “It’s about discriminating against gay and lesbian people. 

429Magazine

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