Friday, April 26, 2013

Take Your Same-Sex Business Elsewhere

The Revised Code of Washington, section 49.60.030, covers freedom from discrimination and begins with this statement: 

(1) The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is recognized as and declared to be a civil right. 

Washington state senator Sharon Brown, and at least eleven other senators, including Spokane's Mike Padden, have offered up a bill to create exemptions in the state's anti-discrimination law.

It leads off with...

AN ACT Relating to the right to engage in commerce free from discrimination;

It sounds good so far. But here is the text they want to add.

(4) Nothing in this section may burden a person or religious organization's freedom of religion including, but not limited to, the right of an individual or entity to deny services if providing those goods or services would be contrary to the individual's or entity owner's sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience. This subsection does not apply to the denial of services to individuals recognized as a protected class under federal law applicable to the state as of the effective date of this section. 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 restrictive means to further that interest.

It doesn't apply to any protected class under federal law, which includes race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, familial status, disability, veteran status, and genetic information.

But it would apply to a same-sex couple wishing to get married and wanting to buy flower arrangements from a florist for their wedding ceremony. The right to commerce free from discrimination would not apply to them. Such is the value--and danger--of sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, and matters of conscience of a business trumping those of the customer.

And such would be the effect of those beliefs when they are forced upon the citizenry by legislators.

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