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A bill that would allow businesses and organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples — and other people — based on religious belief was introduced in the Minnesota House on Wednesday.

The bill (HF0043) 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.

The bill was authored by Republican Rep. Duane Quam of Byron. It’s identical to a bill that Quam introduced in 2016. In an interview with the Rochester Post-Bulletin prior to introducing the bill in 2016, he said that same-sex couples turned away from religious businesses have plenty of other options to choose from:

“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.

Quam’s 2016 bill did not get a vote in the Minnesota Legislature.

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