In an opinion issued earlier this month, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision in my consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman.
The court agreed with me that the florist violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers in 2013.
I brought this case seeking a definitive, unequivocal decision from our state’s highest court that discrimination against our LGBTQ community members is illegal. That’s exactly what the court said.
To be clear, if Stutzman had agreed to no longer discriminate back in 2013, I would not have filed this lawsuit, and she would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties. I sent her a letter at the time asking her simply to comply with the law. She refused.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision, written by Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, sent a very clear message: “The State of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case — refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding — constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the WLAD.”
As a Ferguson File reader, you are already familiar with my proposal to end the sale of assault weapons and limit high-capacity magazines in Washington.
I’d like to highlight some of my other legislative proposals this session.
I proposed two bills to help veterans and our men and women in uniform this session. The first updates the Washington Service Members Civil Relief Act, which provides various financial and legal protections for military service members ordered to federal active duty.
The update expands the act to include protections for cancelations or suspensions of more contracts, including gym memberships and internet, television, satellite radio and telecommunications services. The act complements federal law protections applicable to rental agreements, mortgages and income tax payments, among other things. House Bill 1056 is sponsored by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, and Senate Bill 5041 is sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. HB 1056 passed the House unanimously, and is now being considered in the Senate. Senate Bill 5041 passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 27.
I also proposed a bill to improve service members’ access to legal services. House Bill 1055, also sponsored by Rep. Kilduff, and Senate Bill 5021, sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, creates an Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance in the Attorney General’s Office, serving as a one-stop shop for legal assistance and pro bono services provided by community organizations and private attorneys.
Two agency-request bills I proposed this session are aimed at protecting human trafficking victims from their traffickers, as well as extending the window of opportunity to prosecute traffickers for their crimes.
Protection orders for sexual assault or domestic violence are not available to protect many trafficking victims, who often face harassment and intimidation from their former traffickers. My proposal, sponsored by Rep. Orwall, as HB 1079, and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, as SB 5029, creates a new human trafficking protection order to address this gap in the law. It enables victims of human trafficking to keep their trafficker away from their home, school or business and reduce the trafficker’s ability to contact, intimidate or threaten the victim.
Currently, the statutes of limitations for human trafficking, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor are only three years. This short timeline severely limits the opportunity to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes, because victims are often under the control of their trafficker for significant periods of time.
My proposal, under House Bill 1078 and its companion, Senate Bill 5030, extends the human trafficking statute of limitations from three to 10 years. Commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting sexual abuse could be prosecuted up until the victim’s 30th birthday.
The agency-request bills are sponsored by Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, and Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way.
Both of the measures have passed the House on unanimous votes, and SB5030 passed the Senate unanimously.
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Under current law, many state officials and employees can leave a state job and start work the following day as a lobbyist paid to influence former colleagues. In 2015, Washington received a D+ for government accountability from the Center for Public Integrity on its scorecard assessing our rules governing disclosure, accountability and influence peddling.
I wouldn’t accept a D+ grade from my kids, and the people of Washington shouldn’t accept it from their government.
I’ve re-introduced legislation this year to establish a one-year lobbying prohibition for former high-ranking state officials. The legislation also requires disclosure of where former officials are employed after state service, if they are paid by an entity that does business with or lobbies the state.
I kicked off 2017 by speaking with the Shoreline Rotary Club about our recent campaign finance case against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in addition to my continued push for greater safety protections for workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
I also had the pleasure of participating in a panel at the kick-off of the state’s Civic Learning Initiative, of which I am a co-sponsor. Inside the Temple of Justice on the Capitol Campus, I joined state Supreme Court justices Barbara Madsen and Steven Gonzalez, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik, newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and state Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, to discuss the importance of bolstering civic learning in our schools.
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