Human Rights Commission banner

Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Questions

 

Applicable to Public Accommodation

 
Q. Does the new law apply to fraternal organizations, such as the Fraternal Order of Eagles or Elks of the USA?

No.  The law specifically excludes fraternal organizations as public accommodations:  “…nothing contained in this definition shall be construed to include or apply to any institute, bona fide club, or place of accommodation, which is by its nature distinctly private, including fraternal organizations, though where public use is permitted that use shall be covered by this chapter…”  RCW 49.60.215.

 Q. Does the sexual orientation jurisdiction apply to the Boy Scouts of America?

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) would be considered a public accommodation under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).  However, the United States Supreme Court decision in Boy Scouts of America et al v. James Dale,(99-699) 530 U.S. 640 (2000), clearly allows the Boy Scouts to deny membership or employment to gay men based on their First Amendment right to expressive association.   Expressive association is a right protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends.  We believe that that right, under the U.S. Supreme Court decision cited above, also extends to other groups excluded by the Boy Scouts on the basis of sexual orientation.  Therefore, the sexual orientation provisions of the WLAD would not apply to the Boy Scouts.