OK Has a Real ‘Right to Discriminate’ Law

OK Has a Real ‘Right to Discriminate’ Law March 9, 2015

I’ve seen a lot of laws described as “right to discriminate laws,” but most of them are just normal RFRA laws, for which there is no history of ever being used to exempt anyone from discrimination laws. But Oklahoma is considering a bill that they call a RFRA law that truly is a right to discriminate law.

The Oklahoma Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015 goes much further than the federal RFRA or any state version of RFRA. It says that any business can discriminate against not only LGBT people but women as well. The bill provides that “no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex, gender or sexual orientation.” Which means that it not only allows discrimination against gay people (which was already allowed, actually, because sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are not covered under the state’s anti-discrimination laws as it is), but they could refuse to hire or serve women as well. Among the things that a business, individual, non-profit or any government agency can refuse to do under this law for both gay people and women:

Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges

Provide counseling, adoption, foster care, and other social services

Provide employment or employment benefits

But the sponsor of the bill says it’s really about the gays. He doesn’t think gay people have any right to be served by any business. But don’t worry, he has a lot of gay friends, so that makes it okay:

State Senator Joseph Silk (R) is sponsoring the “Oklahoma Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015,” which would protect businesses — religious or secular — from lawsuits for discriminating against customers who offend their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”…

“The L.G.B.T. 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 explained before adding, “And I say that sensitively, because I have homosexual friends.”

Silk explained that members of the LGBT movement need to be sensitive to the rights of religious business owners, which trump their rights as consumers and citizens.

“They don’t have a right to be served in every single store,” he said. “People need to have the ability to refuse service if its violates their religious convictions.”

So why not remove religion from the statutes too? Why not let Muslim-owned businesses refuse to do business with Christians or Jews? I mean, if you really mean this — which, of course, you don’t. You only mean that gay people should be discriminated against because it’s against your religious beliefs. Because you’re a bigot.

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