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Sen. Ed Murray: Senate's gay discrimination bill "truly shameless"

Democratic Senators pushed back hard against a proposed Senate bill that would allow business owners to discriminate based on their own religious and philosophical views.

Democratic senators pushed back against a Senate Republican coalition bill that would allow businesses to choose not to serve customers because of religious or philosophical beliefs Friday.

The bill comes from the legal flap over a Richland flower shop refusing to sell floral arrangements to a gay couple for their wedding because of the owner's religious convictions against gay marriage. The state Attorney General's office is suing Arlene's Flowers of Kennewick and Richland, charging discrimination. 

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, said that that incident and a recent Senate resolution on religious freedom prompted her to introduce the bill. She wants to start a debate on protecting religious freedom in Washington, saying the state does not have a specific law on the books doing that. "I think that protecting religious freedom is very important. ... I'm not trying to undo the law on same sex marriage," she said.

The bill's language calls for keeping current anti-discrimination laws intact, but adds that "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."

She viewed her bill as a first draft to be modified as debate ramps up. Brown said the bill would not forbid civil lawsuits on such matters. The bill has nine Republican Senate co-sponsors.

"I'm shocked that the Majority Coalition Caucus (23 Republicans and two Democrats) would introduce such a bill," said Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, and one of the Legislature's spearheads on last year's gay marriage bill. "They are trying  to confuse religious freedom with civil rights legislation."

Murray also noted that the current gay marriage law allows ministers to choose not to marry gay and lesbian couples because of religious beliefs.

"Under Senate Bill 5927, if you own a business in our state and don't like gay people because of religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs or just because you don't, you will no longer have to provide services or sell your goods to any gay people," warned Sen. Kevin Ranker. "How's that for progress."

"At the beginning of session, Republicans said that all social issues were off the table because the budget was their priority," Murray said "It takes someone truly shameless to say that in January and then, with three days left in session and without a deal on an operating, capital or transportation budget anywhere in sight, to introduce a bill that goes into our civil rights laws and decides who gets served and who doesn’t get served. Truly shameless."

John Stang is a longtime Inland Northwest newspaper reporter who earned a Masters of Communications in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 7:33 a.m. Inappropriate

That must make Democrat values sexist, discrimination in favor of certain sexual practices or orientations, willing to use the force of law to place people in racical/ethnic catagories, advocates of no national sovereignty or integrity of borders, hypocrisy and monotheistic dictatorship. Your party does exist in Washington State and their party has controlled the State, County and City Governments here for almost thirty years, you call yourselves Democrats.

Cameron

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 8:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Personally, I wouldn't want to do business with anyone who is only serving me because the state has a gun to his head. I'd rather be a customer of an establishment that wants my business and is willing to go the extra mile for me because they want to keep me as a customer. If someone doesn't want me as his customer, I'm happy to go to his competitor, and good riddance.

dbreneman

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 4:05 p.m. Inappropriate

You possess common sense.

Gays on the other hand Love the Drama.
They expect others to go along with "them" but when someone chooses not to they cry. There are a thousand other florists in the area, 1/4 probably run by gays.

I am OK with gay marriage but the "drama" forces me to take 2 steps back.

tjp

Posted Mon, Apr 29, 8:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Yeah. Those Gays, they be as bad as them uppity blacks was back in the 60s. Always trying to insist that they be treated as if they was white. I mean, if a restaurant or bus line or restroom don't want to serve them, why would they insist on going there? Can't they just be content with what they've got? Always making a mountain out of molehole. Why, they can even have there own flower shops and restaurants and apartment buildings if they like, where they can all be together with the rest of their kind. I just don't understand why they want to keep pushing to be treated like everyone else.

Steve E.

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 9:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Jim Crow was government policy, enacted into law and enforced by the police. Racial discrimination wasn't just evil, it was the law. I haven't seen anyone here advocating discrimination, and those who practice it are in a vanishingly small minority. To conflate a handful of bigots with a government sanctioned institution of evil like Jim Crow may be rhetorically appealing but it's intellectually lazy.

dbreneman

Posted Wed, May 1, 10:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Why do you feel that racial discrimination even comes close to this issue. Gay is a choice, not a racial issue. To try and equate the two is insulting to anyone of intelligence. How is taking away the religious rights of half the people in this state fair? When will the progressive movement end? When Christians are flogged to death? We are not allowed to voice our opinions without being called racists or homophobes. I have no problem with someone choosing to be gay. I do have a problem with laws going int affect that limit my pursuit of happiness and freedoms based on giving special status to people who have chosen a certain lifestyle. Everyone deserves the same treatment across the board; respect, safety, and the right to pursue their own dreams. Gay marriage is now law. Now, business owners have no right to refuse service to gays. So if the KKK wants flowers for their grand poobah and a black owner refuses, then he can expect to be sued and harassed by the progressives. Get the point? Where are our freedoms going in this progressive world? To the special interest groups with the most money? Sad.

Posted Sat, May 4, 10:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Sorry Steve comparing being gay with the civil rights movement doesn't fly. Its actually pretty shameful and shows you must not have any knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement. When was the last time a gay was told to ride at the back of the Bus? Seen any Gay Only water fountains?

By the way I think Blacks are every bit as Boring as Gays have become.
Time for both groups to move on and stop being victims.

Peace Out Word

tjp

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 3:25 p.m. Inappropriate

I will be interested to know how you measure "sincerity"- do you buy e-meters from the Scientologists?
Because, of course, to qualify under this law, you would need to legally prove your "sincerely held religious belief".

What if somebody only LOOKED gay, but could prove in court they actually were hetero- would you then have to serve them?

The fact is, this is ridiculous on every level, and no store should be able to judge you based on your looks, or their perceived beliefs about your beliefs.

Behavior, sure- if you are drunk, or rude, or swearing or not wearing pants, thats one thing. But somebody deciding that you, somehow, violate an imaginary and unprovable standard they could have made up five minutes ago?

Under this law, it would be perfectly legal to post a sign saying "no christians allowed"- and then ask people to swear on a satanic image, or sign their name in blood, or enter by walking across a Jesus doormat, to prove they are not christian eh?

Unbelievable.

Ries

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 9:48 p.m. Inappropriate

I am all for gay marriage if they want but refusing for religious reasons seems to be in much the same category as refusing to go into combat or kill in war. You may have to put up with the government complaints but it is honorable and once you register as a consciences objector is ok.

Posted Mon, Apr 29, 11:11 a.m. Inappropriate

Good comment. Just five years ago our President described marriage as exclusively a matter for two people of the opposite sex; that he had to even answer that particular question on that issue was a major novelty. Now, half a decade later, a retailer must genuflect to the new morality and renounce the attitudes she has constructed over a lifetime. The law is the law but it should be applied with considerably more restraint and patience. I hope the lawsuit requires a jury trial.

kieth

Posted Mon, Apr 29, 11:49 a.m. Inappropriate

Those poor slaveowners after the Civil War had to "genuflect" to a new morality, too.
Somehow we survived that one.
And then, when those uppity women demanded the right to VOTE, of all things, a bunch of people who had constructed attitudes over a lifetime were forced to change them as well.
Sometimes life in a democracy with a constitution is just plain heartbreaking, eh?

Ries

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 10:09 p.m. Inappropriate

There are more drama queens under the Dems quilts then bedbugs. I'm surprised the state patrol hasn't been called in to put the petal to the metal and deflower the florist.

Djinn

Posted Sat, Apr 27, 10:59 p.m. Inappropriate

When Murray says the bill was introduced by "the Majority Caucus" he is deliberately misleading. Ten Senators introduced it (not the Caucus, and not its leadership), long after the deadline for its consideration. It's a bad bill but it is going nowhere and a serious experienced legislator like Murray knows that.

Murray is running for Mayor of Seattle, and his rhetoric shows that his priorities are there. He ought to cease partisan grandstanding and let Seattle's voters know where he stands on the local issues of Seattle. So far we have no idea.

Does anyone know whether Murray supports or opposes the Arena deal?

simorgh

Posted Mon, Apr 29, 8:44 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, I know that my state senator, Barbara Bailey, is one of the sponsors. I feel like I just woke up in 1966 and my legislator is named Lester Maddox.

Steve E.

Posted Sun, Apr 28, 3:13 p.m. Inappropriate

There is a difference between refusing to kill people (conscientious objector)
and refusing to sell a coke, or a gallon of gas, or a bouquet, to somebody because of something you think they might think.

In the USA, I dont think registering with the government as a certified bigot is enough to have a "No Fags Allowed" sign on your store.

Ries

Posted Wed, May 1, 11:16 p.m. Inappropriate

You are just a hate filled person. No one of half a brain believes that gays should be treated any differently than any other citizens. I haven't seen gay bashing crimes streaming across the media and with today's media, I don't think we would miss a rock thrown in anger. One flower shop in the state doesn't want to make flowers for a gay wedding and you immediately name them bigots. Believe it or not, Christians aren't the enemy of tolerance, peace and acceptance, you are. You are so blinded with your own agenda and hate that you refuse to even consider the possibility that others may have a different view of what is acceptable by their beliefs. Why is the religion that this country was founded on such an evil to the progressive movement? If you don't believe in God, then why are you so angry with those that do? I Can't think of one Christian mob in our state running a muck, killing those that don't agree with their beliefs. Just maybe the hatred and oppression is coming from your side.

Posted Thu, May 2, 10:07 a.m. Inappropriate

He called them bigots because they ARE bigots - and so are you.

Calling a spade a shovel doesn't make Ries a "hate filled person" - just accurate. Own it, bigot.

Posted Thu, May 2, 1:44 p.m. Inappropriate

If you havent seen gay bashing crimes, you havent been paying attention. 2011, the last year the FBI has statistics for, had over 1500 crimes based on sexual orientation. Yes, a bit 16 of them were against heterosexuals.
2011 was also the most murders of gay people in recent history- 30, nationwide, killed BECAUSE they were gay, not just killed and incidentally they were gay.
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2011/tables/table-1

And as far as gay being a "choice"- nope, you are born gay. Being Bigoted is a Choice.

Ries

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