By Keven Graves
Senate Bill 5927, being co-sponsored by state Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, is seriously flawed.
Not so much because it flies in the face of anti-discrimination laws that the majority of society supports and subscribes to, but because it’s just so darn hard sometimes to tell who the gays and lesbians are.
SB 5927 would allow business owners a legal right to refuse goods or services to gays, lesbians and anyone else based on religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs or the more vague, “matters of conscience.”
Here’s the problem — unless gays or lesbians sashay into a business arm-in-arm or are wearing pink triangles on their chests like they were required in Nazi Germany, it can be confusing for a concerned business owner to ferret them out.
Gays have gotten tricky — some wear the same clothes and exhibit the same mannerisms as those people who made the decision to be straight at an early age.
These days, some gays blend right into the fabric of mainstream America. Some gay men don’t speak with lisps or gesture with limp wrists. Some lesbians don’t sport severe mullets, and some wear makeup and carry purses.
You know the stereotypes.
Heck, with the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” apparently some gays and lesbians proudly wear military uniforms and are allowed to fight and die to protect the rights and freedoms of people of conscience like Sen. Bailey.
Every business owner has the right to hold true to their religious and moral values. And Freedom of Speech protects their right to voice their disapproval for gays and lesbians.
Unfortunately, there are people who chose to be straight who could be caught in the web of Bailey’s law. Women with short haircuts shopping together and metrosexual ladies’ men with waxed eyebrows and perfect tans might be wrongly labeled as gay and denied service.
Where would the law fall in those cases of mistaken sexual identities?
This would violate the rights of good, upstanding straight folks.
While Bailey’s bill will likely die this session, it will undoubtedly be reintroduced in some form down the road.
I would suggest some revisions are in order.
Rather than force business owners to try and determine who might be gay and lesbian or — even more embarrassing, ask people — merchants who don’t want to accept money from gay and lesbian customers should be required to put a special cling on their front door.
It could be a pink triangle pointed downward.
This would send a loud and clear message to gays, lesbians and their friends, family and children: Take your business to someone who wants it.
Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times. He can be reached by email at email@example.com