Wash GOP files retail gay-discrimination exemption

HALLMARK GRAND WINTER WHITES BOUQUET
FILE image of a Hallmark Flowers' Grand Winter Whites arrangement with white tulips, Star-of-Bethlehem and snowy white roses. (PRNewsFoto/Hallmark

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Several Washington Republican lawmakers have filed a bill seeking an exemption to the state’s anti-discrimination laws in response to legal action taken against a Richland florist who denied service to a gay couple for their upcoming wedding.

The bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, adds a section to state law to say that the underlying non-discrimination law may not burden “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.”

Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Kennewick gay couple denied service at a flower shop for their upcoming wedding.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson previously filed a consumer protection lawsuit in that case.

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