An Oklahoma Democrat has proposed a
measure which would require business owners who oppose marriage
equality based on their faith to publicize their intent to
discriminate against gays.
State Rep. Chuck Strohm and Senator
Joseph Silk, both Republicans, have introduced companion bills to
make it easier for businesses and individuals to opt out of serving
people based on their religious beliefs. Most believe it's an effort
targeted at gay couples who wish to marry.
In comments to The New York Times,
Silk appeared to confirm that point.
“The LGBT movement is the main thing,
the primary thing that's going to be challenging religious liberties
and the freedom to live out religious convictions,” Silk said.
“And I say that sensitively, because I have homosexual friends.”
He added: “They don't have a right to
be served in every single store. People need to have the ability to
refuse service if it violates their religious convictions.”
After his comments went viral, Silk
penned a response in which he declared that his bill “has nothing
to do with” the LGBT community.
On Tuesday, Rep. Emily Virgin, a
Democrat, introduced an amendment to the House version of the bill,
“Any person not wanting to
participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of
this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of
either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a
manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business,
including websites,” Virgin's amendment reads.
“The notice may refer to the person's
religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the
business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual
orientation, gender identity or race.”
Troy Stevenson, executive director of
Freedom Oklahoma, applauded the amendment.
“If the state of Oklahoma is going to
protect discrimination, then at the very least, businesses should be
required to own their bias, and post it publicly for the world to
see,” he said in a statement.