A Minnesota State Senator has proposed
a bill that would allow some business owners to opt out of providing
marriage-related services to gay and lesbian couples based on their
Republican Senator Paul Gazelka (pictured)
introduced his “Religious Freedom” bill last week.
The measure states that no clergy
member or business must provide goods or services “if that action
would cause the individual or business to violate a sincerely held
belief regarding whether marriage is only the union of one man and
one woman.” The bill would only apply to businesses with fewer
than 20 employees.
Gazelka, a strong opponent of marriage
equality, insisted that his bill is not about discrimination.
“Now I'm simply asking that
Christians and people of faith be able to live as they choose,
without the threat of punishment from the government,” he said.
Monica Meyer, executive director of
Outfront Minnesota, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate, said
the “bill is not treating LGBTQ people and their families well.”
“We see this as an attack on the
freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” she told the Pioneer
Minnesota lawmakers ended that state's
marriage exclusion based on sexual orientation in 2013, just months
after voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment defining
marriage as a heterosexual union.