Republicans in the Minnesota House introduced prefiled a bill that would allow people, organizations, and businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious belief. The bill was posted to the Minnesota House website on Friday.
The bill, HF2462, was introduced by Republican Reps. Duane Quam of Byron and Cindy Pugh of Chanhassen.
The bill states:
Notwithstanding chapter 363A or any law to the contrary, no person, organization, or entity shall incur a civil or criminal penalty for refusing to provide a service, or refusing to allow the use of property or facilities for any activity that is prohibited by or is against the person’s, organization’s, or entity’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
Quam hinted in late 2015 that he would be offering the bill. He also doesn’t think it will lead to discrimination. If same-sex couples are turned away because of someone’s religious beliefs, they can always go elsewhere, he argued in an interview with the Rochester Post-Bulletin:
“Why should a person, a group choose to make someone do something they don’t want to do? You’ve got probably dozens of options but you don’t choose ones that the people don’t have a problem with it. Instead you choose to rub somebody’s face in something for a point,” Quam said….Quam rejects the idea that his bill could lead to discrimination. He said same-sex couples planning a wedding have plenty of businesses to choose from. As such, he said there is no harm in providing legal protections for business owners to refuse that business if it violates their religious beliefs.
“There are plenty of bakeries to bake cakes, photographers to take pictures, florists to make arrangements,” he said.
A similar bill was introduced in 2015 by Republican Sen. Paul Gazelka of Nisswa, and is pending in the 2016 legislature.
“Religious liberty” bills are becoming increasingly common in legislatures around the country. Debate on such bill are underway in Indiana, Georgia, Florida, and Oklahoma, and the majority of states have some form of the legislation pending.