Lawmaker introduces ‘Freedom of Conscience’ bill; says measure is not anti-gay

State Sen. Paul Gazelka
State Sen. Paul Gazelka

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, was speaking as gently as he could when he introduced a bill covering one of the nation’s most contentious debates. And right off the top he conceded that his  “Freedom of Conscience’’ bill isn’t going anywhere — at least this session.

“I wanted to start the conversation,” Gazelka said of why he’s introducing the bill so late in the session. Of course, conversations about the issues this bill covers — whether people of deep religious conviction can be required to provide their services to same-sex marriages? — have been going on since gay marriage has become legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

It comes down to this, Gazelka believes: Religious freedom versus civil rights. Should that main street baker be required to bake a cake for a gay marriage? Should the professional photographer be required to take photographs of the wedding? Should a private facility that offers wedding venues be required to host a same-sex wedding?

“I want a public conversation that leads to a safe place so both sides can live their lives as they please,’’ said Gazelka. “Everybody should be able to live as they want.’’ His bill, he continued, is “surgical’’ and not nearly so broad as bills that have been debated in other states, such as Indiana.

His bill would apply only to small businesses, which he defines as businesses employing 20 or fewer people. But his bill would not apply even in those cases if a couple could not obtain similar services within a “reasonable distance” (in this case 30 miles) or if there is no other business able to provide the services within in “reasonable time frame.” 

Clearly, though, this is a thin-ice issue that few in the Legislature are willing to take on. Gazelka said that he’d spent more than a year crafting the language of the bill and that he’s spent considerable time attempting to get DFL legislators to sign on. Some expressed empathy, Gazelka said, but no DFLers agreed to be a co-author. 

There also appears to be no support from anyone the GOP’s leadership in the Senate or the House to take on this issue this year — or ever. 

Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, did stand with Gazelka at a Thursday morning media event, but he made it clear he was not going to create companion legislation for the House.

“Dropping a bill at this time seems like a blunt instrument,’‘ Miller said. “No one [in House leadership] said, ‘No, no, no,’ but they did say they want to focus more on the budget.’’

Gazelka’s moves before introducing the bill showed that he understands the need for diplomacy in this issue. For example, he purposely did not invite representatives of the Minnesota Family Council to stand with him at his news event, understanding that the socially conservative organization is seen as a red flag by those less conservative.

Gazelka also said he reached out to gay rights organizations, such as OutFront Minnesota, hoping for support. Not surprisingly, there was no support forthcoming.

“We did speak with him,’’ said Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, “just as we talk with anyone regarding GLBT issues. We also made it clear we’d oppose any of his efforts. We see this effort as a rollback of the Human Rights Act in Minnesota,” which was passed in 1993.

Meyer added that the main street baker doesn’t have to support the decision of a same-sex couple choosing to marry, but he or she does have an obligation to treat all customers equally. It’s the law.

Over and over, Gazelka insisted that though he supported the 2012 amendment that would have restricted marriage to one man, one woman — and though he voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013 — this bill is “not an anti-gay marriage bill.’’ He also said this is a bill aimed strictly at services surrounding marriage.

It was an event in his district, he said, that made this an issue for him. A Catholic couple, he said, has a venue that it rents out for marriage ceremonies. But when a gay couple wanted to use the venue, the couple said “no,’’ citing deep religious convictions. 

“The hammer of government was dropped on them,’’ said Gazelka, adding that the couple that refused to hold the ceremony ended up paying $9,000 in restitution and legal fees. No word whether other gay couples have attempted to use the facility.

In his mind, the bill would not impact other issues surrounding religious beliefs and public accommodation. For example, in 2006, Muslim cab drivers at the Twin Cities International Airport were refusing, in some cases, to transport customers who were carrying alcohol, claiming that it was a violation of their religious convictions. In 2008, they lost their case in court on a number of technical grounds. Around the same time, there were instances of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for such things as birth control pills or so-called morning-after pills to customers, claiming to do so would violate religious convictions. The outcome of the pharmacy cases has been muddled and laws vary from state to state.

Gazelka said he hadn’t considered those cases in putting together his bill.

State Sen. Warren Limmer
State Sen. Warren Limmer

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, was standing next to Gazelka at the media event.  Limmer was a main force behind the successful effort to get the marriage amendment on the ballot in 2012. The amendment not only failed, it likely sped up the process of legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. 

Limmer said he has no regrets about pushing the amendment. He agrees that times are changing, and that the issue is becoming less important to growing numbers of Minnesotans. In his work as a Realtor, Limmer said he’s happy to serve gay couples. But he applauds Gazelka’s effort.

“I think he’s doing the right thing,’’ Limmer said. “Can people of faith gently step away from a new paradigm.’’

But OutFront’s Meyer said there’s no stepping away from civil rights.

“To step back really would go against what was in the hearts of the people of Minnesota,’’ Meyer said. “People in this state said clearly that all of us should be able to love who we want to love.’’ 

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Comments (63)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/07/2015 - 01:45 pm.

    You can’t pick and choose, sir

    Laws that apply to these people, but not those, are a non-starter.

    You either believe in religious freedom or you don’t.
    You either believe in a merchant’s right to free association with his customers or you don’t.
    You either believe that all rights are individual rights and not collective rights or you don’t.

    But whatever you believe in, the law must apply to all.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/07/2015 - 03:40 pm.

      I agree, in a way

      I don’t know if I would put it in the terms you use, but you are correct. The hyper-technical, pettifogging limits to the application of the law are absurd. He is trying to make an offensive bill seem as palatable as he can.

      Sorry, it’s just not going to work.

  2. Submitted by jason myron on 05/07/2015 - 01:56 pm.

    The “hammer of government?”

    What a crock. If the couple who had the venue didn’t choose to discriminate and hide behind their faux “deeply religious convictions” then not only would they not be out 9K, but they would have actually made some money which is the entire point of being in business in the first place. Did these people question each and every person who previously rented out this facility regarding their sexual proclivities or whether they had engaged in sex prior to marriage? Or are those “deeply held religious convictions” really not that deep? At least not deeper than your average, run of the mill bigotry?

  3. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 05/07/2015 - 02:10 pm.

    Not Anti-Gay Marriage

    Sen. Gazelka: “This bill is not an anti-gay marriage bill.”

    I think he left out a word. What he really meant was “This bill is not *just* an anti-gay marriage bill.” It allows discrimination of lots of different people that want to get married. It’s an anti-interracial marriage bill. And an anti-previously divorced marriage bill. And an anti-non-virgin marriage bill. And an anti-lots-of-other-things-we-haven’t-thought-of-yet marriage bill.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/07/2015 - 03:08 pm.

    “People in this state said clearly that all of us should be able to love who we want to love.’’

    That is patently false. The people of Minnesota agreed that a constitutional ban wasn’t necessary because there was already a law on the books…then a DFL dominated legislature pulled the rug out from under them.

    They clearly said they were outraged by booting out many DFL legislators who helped pull that rug and sending a GOP majority to the House.

    Those are the facts.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 05/07/2015 - 04:10 pm.

      Actually

      the “facts” are that the same legislators that tried to enshrine their bigotry into the state Constitution, were thrown out in droves in 2012. I have to say, the rug analogy is a hoot. It’s akin to the bully crying about how his daily victim hit him first this time.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/07/2015 - 04:48 pm.

    Not anti-gay at all, no sir!

    Thirty years ago, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Human Rights Act did not exempt private businesses whose sole owner had religious convictions that made him want to discriminate. There was no urgency to amend the law until same sex marriage was made lawful.

    Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/07/2015 - 05:51 pm.

    Conscience plays little part here

    Discrimination by someone mild-mannered and polite, an employer or employee from a very small neighborhood business. and springing from what I will very charitably characterize as sincere religious belief…

    …is still discrimination, and it’s still loathsome. It’s un-American in every meaningful way, and has been characterized repeatedly by the SCOTUS as unconstitutional. That Mr. Tester and Mr. Swift endorse this particular variation simply reinforces their own credibility as bigots, and their willful ignorance of our Constitution.

    What Senator Gazelka acknowledges with this bill, whether it stands a chance of passage or not, is that he (and/or his constituents) are extremely uncomfortable with the notion of attraction, emotional connection, and even sexual union between people that are not just gay, but who do not fit the Senator’s personal definition of “normal.” Our ancestors saw the same thing in the late 1600s, with the Salem Witch Trials among the results of the same kind of thinking. History since then has provided dozens of examples.

    The concept, which ought not to be that difficult for Messrs. Tester and Swift to understand, is “equal protection under the law.” It’s not “Some are more equal than others under the law,” or “Some, who look and behave more like me, deserve more protection under the law.” Equal protection is fundamental to the United States that Mr. Swift would have us believe he reveres, and which Mr. Tester served honorably in the Navy.

    Quiet, soft-spoken bigotry is still bigotry. You can believe anything you want, but the Constitution and our laws say that you can’t always *practice* what you believe. In the process, Senator Gazelka has provided yet another example of the wisdom of separating church and state.

  7. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/07/2015 - 05:58 pm.

    It is anti-gay and it is meant to be anti-gay

    “Should that main street baker be required to bake a cake for a gay marriage? Should the professional photographer be required to take photographs of the wedding? Should a private facility that offers wedding venues be required to host a same-sex wedding?” The answer to each of those questions is YES! If you decide to engage in commercial activity in Minnesota, you should expect to follow the laws that regulate commercial activity. Those laws currently (and for quite some time) have prohibited you from discriminating against homosexuals in your commercial activities. Don’t want to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple? Get out of the wedding cake business. It is that simple.

    If this bill passes, it should be amended to require each and every business that isn’t going to serve gay customers to post a conspicuous notice of their intent not to serve gay customers. That will allow the rest of us to make an informed decision as to whether we want to do business with them.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/09/2015 - 07:25 am.

      Excellent Idea

      “require each and every business that isn’t going to serve gay customers to post a conspicuous notice of their intent not to serve gay customers.”

      If the LGBT Supporters would allow this Religious freedom, I think the Religious Right Businesses would take them up on it. They may lose some customers, however I think they may gain just as many or more.

      As mentioned here, the pro and con LGBT marriage folk are pretty evenly balanced in this State.

      • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 05/09/2015 - 11:34 am.

        58-39 isn’t really “evenly balanced”

        The fact is it is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in this state. If you run a business you have to follow the law. End of argument.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/09/2015 - 02:10 pm.

        Religious Right Businesses

        You have to be kidding. There is no bigger whiner in the world than the business that wants to discriminate against LGBT customers without any kind of repercussions. Anyone who refuses to patronize their business is being mean and intolerant “and now donate money to my store.”

        Here’s an idea for you: Why stop at discrimination against LGBT people? A business owner who had a religious objection to interracial marriages could lawfully keep mixed-race couples out, provided he posted a sign. “No parents who have adopted outside their race admitted. Acts 17:26”–would that be okay?

        Or are you making a special case to excuse anti-LGBT discrimination only?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/09/2015 - 08:39 pm.

          Innate or choice

          As we have discussed before, race differences are proven to be innate.

          Sexual attraction. Science is still working on it.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/10/2015 - 08:46 am.

            I’m not sure if they’re igniring the difference between immutable characteristics and behavior out of ignorance or desperation, but it certianly takes the wind out of their sails.

            See, acknowledging the truth would force them to redefine this as the ravings of a “bigot”:

            “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2015 - 11:55 am.

            Innate or choice

            Or, the bounds of polite discourse have evolved over the past few decades so that outright racial discrimination is taboo.

            In any event, if we are talking about “sincere religious objections,” why should the innate/choice distinction matter? Are you setting up some religious objections as more worthy of respect than others?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2015 - 05:20 pm.

              Yes

              Oh definitely… I whole heartedly believe that women, blacks, etc shall have equal rights and not be denied service.

              I do not believe that a man that marries another man is entitled to the same protection. (yet) I will change this view as someone can define the innate vs behavior issue.

              I am happy letting PETA people refuse service to fur farmers. I am happy letting religious people refuse service to others who BEHAVE contrary to their religion. Once we know it is a physiological trait, then we know it is not a behavior.

              • Submitted by jason myron on 05/11/2015 - 07:55 am.

                Behavior vs. Science?

                Who cares? The real hypocrites are the people who clamor for scientific evidence to prove same sex attraction and do it under the guise of completely unprovable religious dogma. Where’s your devotion to empirical data and scientific theory when it comes to the source of the very laws you expect everyone else to respect?
                You’re “happy” to let people discriminate based on behavior? Great…then let’s start by having potential customers fill out a questionnaire before every purchase so the store owner can determine if that customer is worthy of purchasing the goods and services that he/she provides.
                Or maybe one step further… a national data base for each and every person, compiling religious, political and social information. Then you can discriminate on a variety of levels. You’ll never have to have deal with the heathens again.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2015 - 09:06 am.

                Innate v. Behavior

                What are you waiting for–unanimity? There will always be charlatans who will tell you that being gay is a choice, if that feeds in to your perceived biases. The gullible will trumpet news releases claiming a “study”–unnamed and uncited, so you have to take his word for it–proves it is not innate. Are we supposed to give them credibility? More importantly, are we supposed to let those people dictate who has what rights?

                The deference shown towards bigotry (“I don’t necessarily agree with it, myself, but let’s tolerate it and let it affect the lives of others”) is just another form of bigotry.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/11/2015 - 01:05 pm.

                  More than Today

                  I have reviewed your sources and there were just some theories, some empirical study, etc. Maybe it will be resolved in a few more years.

                  • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2015 - 01:38 pm.

                    “Just some theories”

                    How much more information do you need before you deign to acknowledge that discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and should be outlawed? Or is it a matter of enough of the “right” people declaring that it isn’t done anymore?

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 05/11/2015 - 03:08 pm.

                      How much more information do they need, RB?

                      Reference any discussion on climate change for your answer.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 05/11/2015 - 07:45 pm.

                    To those of us

                    that think that all humans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, the matter has already been resolved. Your mileage may vary.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/12/2015 - 02:46 pm.

                      Religion

                      I notice you forgot religion.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/12/2015 - 03:47 pm.

                      To apply your criterion . . .

                      Religion is a choice. It is not innate.

  8. Submitted by Jon Butler on 05/07/2015 - 06:10 pm.

    The racial bigotry behind the “religious freedom” arguments

    The “religious freedom” and “freedom of conscience” arguments have their immediate origins in southern resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 desegregation decision. The historian Jane Daily demonstrated in her article, “Sex, Segregation, and the Sacred after Brown,” Journal of American History, 91, no. 1 (2004): 119-144, that desgregation opponents vigorously backed their arguments with alleged Biblical quotations demanding separation of the races, as did Rev. Jerry Falwell in a 1958 sermon published in his church magazine, “Segregation Or Integration, Which?,” Word of Life 1958, pp. 1 and 4.

    The “freedom of conscience” argument has some heavy work to do to demonstrate why opposition to gay marriage, based on religious views, is different than opposition to desegregation and inter-racial marriage, and refusing to serve minorities in restaurants, all based on religious views.

  9. Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 05/07/2015 - 06:23 pm.

    No matter

    In June, when the Court does the right thing under the 14thA, and decides that people who love each other can get married without the religious right pearl clutchers dictating policy, bills like this will go down in history as the anti-gay animus driven bills they are.

    6-3 for, with the Chief in the majority. Then clowns like Gazelka will just be know for being on the wrong side of history.

    Bigots only win with their base, and in this case, well, the base is pretty ugly, but bless their homophobic hearts for trying.

  10. Submitted by Dan Bosch on 05/07/2015 - 06:51 pm.

    Deep Religious Conviction

    In my time, I have listened to people speak with “deep religious conviction” against inter-racial marriage, mixed religion marriages, letting people marry who lived together before marriage, letting people marry who have not gotten an annulment and letting people marry who will not sign an agreement to promise the children will be brought up in a certain religion.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/08/2015 - 09:19 am.

      Deep Religious Convictions

      Don’t forget local boy Elroy Stock. He did everything he did out of “deep religious convictions.”

      • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/08/2015 - 11:01 am.

        Elroy Stock

        Having been a victim of Mr. Stock I can attest to the very real harm that people like him can inflict on others because of their “deep religious convictions.”

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 05/08/2015 - 05:55 pm.

      Let us not forget that apartheid in South Africa

      was based on the “deep religious conviction” of the South African branch of the Dutch Reformed Church, which taught as an official doctrine the notion that black Africans were an inferior race designated by God to be the servants of white people. They believed that they were a “chosen people” destined to inherit southern Africa and make all the indigenous ethnic groups subservient to them. People of mixed race and Asian descent were also subject to discriminatory laws.

      Now if an Afrikaner came to the U.S., opened a bakery, and refused to serve interracial couples, based on his “deep (and genuine) religious convictions,” how long do you think the legal system would put up with that?

  11. Submitted by Dan Bosch on 05/07/2015 - 06:54 pm.

    “he’d spent more than a year crafting the language of the bill”

    And yet he has a 30 mile clause and a “reasonable time frame” stipulation? Does he expect a commission will be appointed to arbitrate people’s requests? That’s the language after a year of writing?

  12. Submitted by Matthew Levitt on 05/07/2015 - 11:58 pm.

    Deep Religious Convictions…

    I’m interested in how these are proven.

    Let’s say that this is the law of the land, that one can discriminate under the guise of deeply held religious convictions. The baker refuses to bake the cake. The party that wanted the cake sues claiming that the baker really doesn’t hold the convictions he claims. Maybe they hire a private detective or gather evidence of the baker’s hypocrisy. What’s the threshold? Do you either hold by Leviticus (all of it) or not?

    It seems to me it would be a lot harder, especially in a civil case, to prove your religious convictions than it would be to prove that you’re full of it.

  13. Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/08/2015 - 01:33 am.

    Religious beliefs and slavery (from way back)…

    “…the bible does set minimum rules for the conditions under which slaves were to be kept. Slaves were to be treated as part of an extended family; they were allowed to celebrate the Sukkot festival, and expected to honour Shabbat. Israelite slaves could not be compelled to work with rigour, and debtors who sold themselves as slaves to their creditors had to be treated the same as a hired servant. If a master harmed a slave in one of the ways covered by the lex talionis, the slave was to be compensated by manumission; if the slave died within 24 to 48 hours, he or she was to be avenged (whether this refers to the death penalty or not is uncertain).”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_and_religion

    Religious beliefs and slavery in the U.S.A.

    “In 1835, at the end of two long articles about religion and slavery in the Charleston Mercury, it was said that both the Old and New Testament give permission to hold others as slaves. In the Old Testament, God and the Patriarchs approve. As for the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles show that slavery is permissible. Therefore, slavery, to those who wrote the article, was not an anti-Christian institution. It was just the opposite. Furthermore, they added, it is impious to say slavery is anti-Christian because such a conclusion contradicted God.”

    http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/3535

    Religious beliefs and child sexual abuse, and the protection, shuffling and enabling of its perpetrators by religion’s hierarchy (an unholy and global “management style” justified by religious beliefs)…

    “The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations, investigations, trials, and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns, and members of Roman Catholic orders against boys and girls as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. The accusations first began to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s; many span several decades, and were brought forward years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who did not report sex abuse allegations to the legal authorities. It was shown that they deliberately moved sexually abusive priests to other parishes, where the abuse sometimes continued. This led to a number of fraud cases, in which the Roman Catholic Church was accused of misleading victims by deliberately relocating priests accused of abuse, instead of removing them from their positions” [and dialing 911].

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases

    Meanwhile, though by no means alone in their views among churches and denominations, the same religion’s religious beliefs about same sex marriage compel them to say…

    “Roman Catholic advocates of monogamous heterosexual marriages contend that same-sex relationships cannot be considered marriages because marriage, by definition, necessarily involves the uniting of two members of the opposite sex.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_same-sex_marriage#Religious_opposition

    Alabama’s religious beliefs on same sex marriage…

    “A. Eric Johnston, an attorney who helped write Alabama’s anti-gay marriage laws that were struck down earlier this year by a federal judge, said that more state laws need to be enacted to protect Alabamians from lawsuits if they are asked to violate their religious beliefs against gay marriage…

    “‘The proposed law – House Bill 56, the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act – is not intended to discriminate against gay couples, but to prevent discrimination against religious people who oppose gay marriage and make a stand based on their conscience,’ Johnston said.

    “‘It’s not discriminatory,’ Johnston said. ‘It avoids discrimination.’

    “‘Alabama needs laws to protect opponents of gay marriage if indeed it becomes the law of the land. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 28 on a gay marriage case and is likely to rule on the issue by June 30,’ Johnston said.

    http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2015/03/author_of_anti-gay_marriage_la.html

    So let’s see… A new, non-discriminatory, law that protects opponents of gay marriage and avoids discrimination by making it illegal for gay people (or uppity, non-gay backsliders) to sue them for discrimination.

    It probably would have been easier to understand, and easier to “get the conversation started,” if Senator Gazelka had just copied the Alabama bill and presented it like that.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/09/2015 - 01:39 pm.

      While your Catholic bashing is certainly enthusiastic, it really isn’t credible if you leave out key points because you find them uncomfortable, Willy.

      For instance, from your Wiki link, you omitted:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases

      “According to the John-Jay-Report, 80.9% of the abuse victims in the United States were male;[100] and a study by Dr. Thomas Plante found the number may be as high as 90%.”

      The victims were also predominantly post-pubescent, adolescents which, if we follow the DSM, means these were not acts of pedophilia, but of homosexual pederasty (abuse of a male minor).

      Knowing how much readers of the Minnpost cherish facts, and truth, I think they would demand the whole story. Knowing how little the censors cherish freedom of speech it’s, sadly, rare they receive it.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/09/2015 - 11:46 pm.

        Good to know

        “The victims were also predominantly post-pubescent, adolescents which, if we follow the DSM, means these were not acts of pedophilia, but of homosexual pederasty (abuse of a male minor).”

        Given what you had to say about Catholic bashing, and my lack of providing all the facts, I suppose I should apologize, but I think I’ll defer and just say thanks for setting the record straight: It’s good of you point out that it was NOT predominantly pedophilia (in America) but just cases of “homosexual pederasty.”

        I suppose I should say that the basic general point is by no means limited to the Catholic church (the Catholic church really does a lot of other great things not all Christian churches do when it come to the basic teaching of the Bible – – working with with the poor and the sick, etc.), but had I presented ALL the “facts” related ALL bastions of “religious belief” that have been guilty of participating in rationalizing and covering up sexual abuse of children, “In the name of God,” my post would have been at least 16 pages long which really WOULD have presented the “censors” at MinnPost with a practical dilemma… What I conveyed was probably way too long as it was, even though I barely scratched the surface.

        But thanks for that clarification. It’s good to know where you stand.

  14. Submitted by David Long on 05/08/2015 - 08:58 am.

    “Freedom of Conscience” bill

    Senators Gazelka and Limmer should have learned an important lesson about wedge issues (all wedge issues) with the failure of the same-sex marriage ban MN constitutional amendment. They, and other legislators spent enormous time in session trying to explain their sincere religious conviction, and why those beliefs should be enshrined in the law. They failed. Now they want to start another “conversation”. Nope, I don’t want to converse. I sincerely hope that someday, somehow, Gazelka, Limmer, and others sincerely apologize for all the painful words, actions, and time wasted they have caused.

  15. Submitted by David Long on 05/08/2015 - 09:35 am.

    Convictions

    Someday, somehow maybe legislators like Senators Gazelka and Limmer will sincerely apologize to all the people of Minnesota for: (1) their bigotry and (2) wasting time and money on this nonsense.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 05/08/2015 - 12:51 pm.

      I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that, David.

      These people are ideologues….they think God is on their side.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/09/2015 - 01:42 pm.

        Don’t know about God, Myron, but we certainly have science and human biology “on our side”. Compared to we realists, I’d say those who are fueling their argument on nothing more tangible than emotion and invective fall more on the ideologue spectrum.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/10/2015 - 12:25 am.

        Yeah, Myron! What’s wrong with you!?

        Speaking of, have you ever read “Myron” by Gore Vidal? I’ve always been a big fan of his and, coincidentally enough, I’m just now reading “Burr,” another of his novels…

        Way too long a story for here, but, lots of years ago, I happened to buy a copy of “Myron” (the first Gore Vidal book I read) in one of those bus or airport terminal “gift shops,” just to have something to read on the trip. Didn’t know anything about anything, other than, as it said on the back cover, it had something to do with another book he had written which I had heard of called, “Myra Breckenridge.”

        I only picked it up because of that and because there was nothing more appealing on the rack… And, when it comes to finding a “quality author a person can depend on for a good book,” it was one of the best unwitting decisions I ever made.

        If you haven’t read it, can’t tell you how much I think you’d enjoy it.

        You too, Swift.

  16. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 05/08/2015 - 01:17 pm.

    Okay, then, suppose …

    Maybe I have a business, and I look around and see the way some people who claim to be “Christian” are treating others badly in ways Christ himself would never have condoned. Shall I then be free to inquire as to the religion of my customers, and refuse to serve them if they claim to be “Christian”?

    More importantly, if this bill were to pass, it should come with a rider that any business planning to discriminate on any grounds must post those grounds on the front door. “We do not serve homosexuals / Christians / pet owners / whatevermypersonalbuggaboois.” That way people can make an informed decision BEFORE walking in.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2015 - 09:10 am.

      Informed decision

      They don’t really want that. It might drive away those of us who are not affected but who don’t want to support a business that would discriminate. They want to discriminate without any consequences.

      Of course, if customers stayed away, they could start an online campaign to solicit donations from like-minded souls. Maybe they do want boycotts–money without having to work for it!

  17. Submitted by Charlie Curry on 05/09/2015 - 04:57 pm.

    False equivalency

    I’m continually surprised by an item totally overlooked, especially by the likes of Gazelka, Limmer, Swift & Tester. The issue at hand is whether actual people are actually treated differently, vs. whether people’s feelings are hurt over having to treat others equally. These are NOT equal-but-opposite opinions. Hurt feelings are an internal attitude that a person has total control over. Experiencing denial of service is quite another matter. Any law that allows me to feel better about denying services to someone else is, as many above have pointed out, just legal bigotry.

    Furthermore, the bill “protects” clergy from something they do not have to be protected from: no clergy are required to marry people they don’t want to marry. Period. The only discernible reason I can think of is to throw clergy into the mix is to stir up fear that Someday It Might Happen.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/10/2015 - 09:39 am.

      People are properly judged by their behavior. Behavior is a reflection of one’s character.

      Judging one by one’s character is a dream Martin Luther King had, once upon a time.

      • Submitted by Charlie Curry on 05/10/2015 - 12:27 pm.

        “people are properly judged by their behavior”

        I’m trying to understand your point. If a straight person comes into a general public place of business and wants to by a product offered by the business, is wearing shoes and a shirt and is not abusing the associates of the business, what behavior would the business use to refuse service? Would that be the same standard if the person were gay?

        Seems to me that if service is refused to a gay person, the business is the one whose character is missing something. For people who profess to be Christians, the question is, “how does refusing service exhibit Christian love?” If you’re interested, look up 1 John 4:18-20, or most of the letter of James for context & consistency of belief and behavior.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/11/2015 - 08:25 am.

          Circumstances Matter

          For the most part, the only LGBT folks being turned that I have heard of were when they wanted to have the business participate in their life activity. (ie wedding, child rearing, etc)

          Have you heard of lots of businesses turning down LGBT folks who want to order a pizza, buy hardware, buy flowers, etc? If so, how would the business owner even know?

          I would think some the obvious tranvestites may have that problem. But the others should not…

  18. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/09/2015 - 07:14 pm.

    “The only discernible reason I can think of is to throw clergy into the mix is to stir up fear that Someday It Might Happen.”

    “There is already a law forbidding SSM; amending the constitution is nothing but unnecessary piling on.”

    • Submitted by Charlie Curry on 05/10/2015 - 12:33 pm.

      “Law forbidding SSM”

      Thomas

      Please explain your comment. Are you referring to the failed effort to amend the MN constitution? If so, are you thinking that the law forbidding single sex marriage (I’m assuming that’s what you mean by SSM) would not have been repealed had the constitutional amendment not been pushed? Just trying to understand your point.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/10/2015 - 09:00 pm.

        No Charlie; I’m assuring you that the amendment would have passed if the DFL had admitted their very first order of business would be repealing the law and constituting SSM as a thing that exists.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/11/2015 - 05:57 pm.

          As they say in legal speak, Mr. Swift

          This matter is quickly becoming a moot point. Sometime soon the Supreme Court will make the problem go away.

          Even rather conservative folks have noted the way marriage between blacks and whites used to once be considered immoral and unnatural. Maybe even Justice Thomas.

        • Submitted by Charlie Curry on 05/18/2015 - 12:28 pm.

          “amendment would have passed”

          First, I think you give too much credit to the DFL for long-range planning, Thomas.

          Second, I was a facilitator in the respectful conversation project preceding the amendment vote. I sensed that the amendment was considered by a large majority of folks to be “a bridge too far” in codifying the definition of marriage. Further, there were a number of folks who were shifting their opinions of GLBT rights as their own experiences brought them into relationships with GLBT people through work, neighborhood, school, etc.

          Third, I was at the capital when the final debate and vote on repealing the law took place. I don’t recall anybody, even the opponents to repeal, suggesting a larger conspiracy connecting the failure of the amendment.

  19. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2015 - 08:09 am.

    Question

    Do the folks here who support forcing private businesses to serve everyone who shows up at their door also support making the following businesses do the same? PETA, LGBT, Green Peace, ACLU, etc supporting business owners.

    If the people who experiment on animals, fight gay rights, harm the forest, push for laws they disagree with, etc show up at their door, do these business owners need to take their money and support them in those efforts?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/10/2015 - 11:39 am.

      JA

      Yes, in a general way I am a non-discriminatory capitalist.
      Generally because, there are always gotchas, like cigarettes to 8 year old’s, guns to lunatics, gasoline to arsonists, etc.

      Perhaps a little additional clarity: If you show up at Menard’s with a Packer sweatshirt on do you have to find a counter that isn’t a Viking fan? If you don’t have the Packer shirt on how will they know the Packer Fans from the Viking fans? If someone buys a chain saw does that make them an environmental terrorist? Given some of the criteria, this would be a pretty crazy place to live. Need a bunch of qualifying tattoos proving you are who you say you are, change positions, new tattoo.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2015 - 05:25 pm.

        Good Judgement

        I guess I am ok if someone wants to not sell someone something because they have a Green Bay jersey on. It is the business owners loss and will likely never happen. Remember that business owners never turn down customers unless they feel really really strongly about that customer’s behaviors. They would not be in business very long if they did.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/12/2015 - 12:09 pm.

          Appalling,

          So if you don’t serve people who have on Green Bay jerseys that’s OK?

          I don’t see that as any different from refusing to serve blacks because you don’t like them.

          Discriminating against someone for wearing green, doesn’t seem any different from discriminating against them because they are black.

          My grandfather, an immigrant Irish plumber, used to tell me about seeing the “No Irish need apply” signs.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/12/2015 - 09:28 pm.

            Again

            Bill,
            Then are you supportive of forcing ALL businesses to serve ANYONE that demands their services and can afford them? (ie ANYONE does not include criminals)

            I think behaviors (wearing green) is a lot different from race (being Black or Irish)

            PETA business owners forced to serve people who oversee animal testing…
            Environmentalist business owners forced to serve fracking oil people…
            Black business owner forced to serve KKK people…

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