A proposed bill co-sponsored by nearly half of Washington state's Senate GOP caucus aims to allow businesses to discriminate against gays.

The measure, introduced by Republican Senator Sharon Brown, seeks to allow businesses the right to deny services or goods if doing so would conflict with their “sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs or matters of conscience.”

In 2006, lawmakers added sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the state's anti-discrimination statute.

Brown's proposal (Senate Bill 5927) would not apply to the denial of services to individuals recognized as a protected class under federal law, which include race, religion or disability.

“There's a glaring lack of protection for religion in state law,” Brown told the AP.

Josh Friedes, a spokesman for Equal Rights Washington, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the measure “discrimination, pure and simple.”

Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, the group which spearheaded last year's unsuccessful attempt to repeal the state's gay marriage law, disagreed.

“The government is now saying if you have a conviction about an issue that we happen to disagree with, then you as a business owner are going to be fined or shut down because of that,” Backholm said. “People should and do have the right to their own convictions.”

The bill, which lawmakers are unlikely to address in the current legislative session, comes several weeks after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the ACLU of Washington filed lawsuits against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts claiming that its owner Barronelle Stutzman had violated state law when she refused to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple.

(Related: Washington florist who refused to supply flowers for gay wedding faces 2 suits.)

The florist shop is located in Brown's district.