Written by Don Byrd
In recent years, a handful of states have wrestled with the rights of vendors like florists, bakeries, and photographers to refuse business for same-sex weddings on religious grounds. In particular, states with strong nondiscrimination statutes forbidding such refusal have seen religious objectors challenge those laws in court. In New Mexico, for example, the state Supreme Court rejected a photographer’s argument that a nondiscrimination law should not force her to provide business for a same-sex wedding over her religious objections.
Some state legislators are taking preemptive action.
In Kansas, a legislative committee could vote on a bill this week:
The bill says businesses, individuals and other groups with strong religious beliefs can’t be forced to recognize same-sex marriage or provide employment or other services to same-sex couples.
“We think a Christian should be able to start a photography business and run it without having to participate in ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs,” [bill proponent Michael] Schuttloffel said.
In Idaho, a bill was just referred to committee.
Legislators in Idaho are looking into the merits of a bill that if enacted would protect licensed professionals from being legally harassed for acting upon their religious beliefs.
“No occupational licensing board or governmental subdivision or entity shall deny, revoke or suspend a person’s professional or occupational license, certificate or registration for… Declining to provide or participate in providing any service that violates the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs or exercise of religion except where performing emergency response duties for public safety,” reads HB 426 in part.
In Oregon, the issue is probably headed to a public referendum.