The governors of Indiana and Arkansas recently signed amended versions of their "religious freedom" bills. The two states had passed versions that could have allowed businesses deny service to LGBT people and others based on religious beliefs. These new versions are supposed to protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Los Angeles Times had an interesting write up on the issue:
Some conservatives hoped the 1993 law would protect religious-minded individuals and businesses from legal mandates on gay marriage that they said would violate their faith. The most commonly cited example was a religious baker who did not want to be forced to make a cake for a gay wedding.Last year, former Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill, SB 1062, after threats from various major businesses, saying the'd pull out investments in Arizona if the legislation became law.
Using the Hobby Lobby precedent, some states broadened the scope of the federal religious-liberty law — which dealt with conflicts between the government and individuals — and defined a protected person to include a business, company or corporation. That small change created a large concern.
"It's much broader than the federal law," said Katherine Franke, a Columbia University law professor. "They felt emboldened by Hobby Lobby." In late February, she wrote a letter on behalf of 30 professors to warn Indiana lawmakers their bill would create "confusion and conflict" if it became law.
By giving special religious rights to businesses, the law could encourage "employers, landlords, small-business owners and corporations to take the law into their own hands," they warned, and to refuse to serve gay customers.
The Phoenix Business Journal has a poll going around at the moment: Should businesses that provide wedding services be allowed to refuse those services to same-sex couples for religious reasons?
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona posted this one their Facebook:
Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms, including to customers who are gay or transgender. Nobody should be turned away from a business simply because of who they are or who they love. Vote NO in the Phoenix Business Journal poll.They've also been pulling strings to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the state's non-discrimination policies.
In the beginning of the legislative session, state Reps. Stefanie Mach and Bruce Wheeler, and state Sen. David Bradley, all Tucson Democrats, were among the sponsors of a bill that would have updated Arizona's non-discrimination laws to add gender identity and sexual orientation, but the piece of legislation went nowhere.
Where does everyone out there stand on this? Should businesses be allowed to deny services to LGBT people?