Lawmakers to discuss proposal that could allow business owners to deny service

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olympiaOLYMPIA — Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that, depending upon interpretation, could allow businesses to refuse service to customers based on religious beliefs.

The bill is called First Freedom Preservation Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, and will be discussed at The Law and Justice Committee hearing Wednesday.

Some say the bill was created in response to the case of a Richland florist who refused to serve a gay couple who were planning to marry.

Padden denies the bill stems from that case.

“The bill we’ll talk about Wednesday has nothing to do with whether a business can decide who he or she serves,” Padden said.

The senator said the bill had more to do with allowing faith-based organizations to use public facilities.

“I’d rather bring state law up to date now than wait until after someone has lodged a complaint about, say, baptisms being performed in a city park.

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