Letter: Bill would weaken anti-discrimination law and deliver blow to civil rights

May 15, 2013 

In response to Arlene's Flowers' open violation of state and federal laws, Republican state Sen. Sharon Brown of Kennewick and other Republican lawmakers are seeking to weaken the state's anti-discrimination laws.

Their proposed bill would amend the state's anti-discrimination laws to not burden "the right of an individual or entity to deny services if providing those goods and services would be contrary to the individual's or entity owner's sincerely held religious or philosophical beliefs or matters of conscience."

Washington already is selective with groups it protects by anti-discrimination laws and, ironically, religious creed and sexual orientation are among them. Thus, Arlene's Flowers' owners and the gay couple are both protected by existing laws. Arlene's Flowers violated that law.

If the Republican-sponsored bill passes, it could negatively affect most sales of goods and services in the state. Goodbye to the enforcement of equal employment, education and housing laws and welcome to all racist, sexist, homophobic and religious extremists whose deeply held beliefs could lead us back to the days of legal segregation and discrimination and the associated violence that characterized those historical periods. Brown and her Republican supporters might revisit their position on this civil rights issue.

DALLAS BARNES, Pasco

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