Sen. Paul Gazelka of Nisswa, flanked by Rep. Tim Miller of Prinsburg and Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, introduced the “Religious Freedom Bill” on Thursday at a press conference at the Minnesota Capitol. The bill, SF2158, would allow religious entities and small businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples.
Here is the full video of the press conference courtesy of The Uptake
“Before we start about what the bill is, I want to talk about what the bill is not,” Gazelka said. “This is not a bill to discriminate against gays and lesbians. This is not a bill to prevent a gay couple from getting the services they need for a wedding service. This bill is not modern day Jim Crow laws as I’ve heard stated about other bills similar to this Jim Crow laws were state sponsored discrimination. This is not a bill to end gay marriage.”
Gazelka said he introduced the bill after a religious business owner discriminated against a same-sex couple in 2014 and was fined by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights:
Last summer a Catholic family in my district chose not to hold a gay wedding ceremony on their private property. The decision was based on the religious beliefs that gay marriage was wrong. Like many, they believe marriage is a sacred ceremony between a man and a woman, and they told the young men they would not have the ceremony on their property because of their belief. They were polite, respectful, but they could not violate their conscience. That’s when the hammer dropped. The Minnesota Human Rights Commission forced them to pay over $9,000 of restitution and legal fees. Because they did not want to have the wedding there, they ended up having the wedding somewhere else and they had to pay for that and the reception. I don’t think that’s right. It’s not right to deny anyone services simply because of who they are, but it’s also not right to force someone to celebrate a gay wedding if they think it’s wrong. These opposing worldviews have crashed head on and the only way for our divided culture to move forward is for both sides to be able to live as they please. Both sides have to leave a little room for the other side to disagree.