States Weigh Legislation to Let Businesses Refuse to Serve Gay Couples

ATLANTA — As it looks increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will establish a nationwide right to same-sex marriage later this year, state legislatures across the country are taking up bills that would make it easier for businesses and individuals to opt out of serving gay couples on religious grounds.

Many states are now reliving a version of events that embroiled Arizona in February 2014, when Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to use their religious beliefs as a legal justification for refusing to serve gay customers.

The resurgent controversy is fueled in part by a deep anxiety among many evangelicals and other conservatives that the Supreme Court will make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states after it takes up the matter in April.

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  • Uncle_Waspy

    So now will Muslim barbers will be compelled to give haircuts to dykes?

    I’d buy that for a dollar!

  • canminuteman

    It’s simple, freedom of association is considered a fundamental freedom in both Canada and the US. We have a fundamental freedom to do business, or not, with who ever we choose to. It is a constitutional right to refuse to associate with someone we choose not to associate with. How the government ever got into the business of forcing people to do business with people they choose not to is a mystery because it is flat out against the law.

    • Alain

      I don’t find it a mystery. It was done bit by bit always claiming to be for the good of the people, and people bought it. Freedom is rarely lost in one swipe other than by a coup d’état; it is the old slow erosion bit by bit. It also requires a lack of awareness and vigilance on behalf of the people.

    • Hard Little Machine

      Technically, it comes from an analysis of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the constitution. And it’s actually aimed directly AT state governments. So for example you can’t refuse to serve blacks because they’re blacks or Irish or Jews, similarly. What the fight has been all about regarding this is whether one can claim exemption from the EPC for religious reasons under the 1st amendment. The courts have stayed away from that because they don’t want to fight the issue of separation of church and state. But – it’s possible at least in theory to drag a church into court for discriminating against, say black people. The Church of Christ of LDS (Mormons) gave lip service to equality for years but in fact barred entry to black people. They gave it up on their own so it never became an issue. But in this day and age you could easily see someone mounting a test case.

      In cases like this you don’t have to demonstrate actual harm or suggest that there are no other options. All you have to do is demonstrate you were denied something. And be clear, if you’re an Hassidic Jew and you walk into a Muslim business and they kick you out AND everyone on the block throws rocks at you and tries to kill you you don’t have a suit either because that falls under ‘community norms’. One person who hates black or gays or Jews is a bigot. A neighborhood that hates black or gays or Jews is a local standard.

      It also helps that the business owners aren’t themselves members of protected class minorities, like blacks, Mexicans, illegal aliens, Muslim, etc etc. It would be MUCH harder to try a case for gay rights against a business owned by 2 black people. Asians? White people? Jews? No problem there. Why? Because at the end of the day this has little to do with gay rights. It has to do with suppressing the negative effects of someone else’s rights.

      • canminuteman

        Do you know if there has ever been a case where someone challenged the EPC as a violation of freedom of association?

        • Hard Little Machine

          No I don’t think that’s ever happened. Nor would it unless we were subject to something like Martial Law.

  • David

    Prescient what:

    “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.”

    Bob Hope