If State Allows Businesses to Refuse Service to Gays, Should They Post Warning on the Door?

Oklahoma Sen. Joseph Silk (R) is refusing to retreat in the face of a furious backlash to his proposed legislation that would protect what he sees as the right of business owners to refuse service to anyone who violates their religious beliefs.

Leaders of the Oklahoma LGBT community believe this is only one of several pieces of legislation in the state intended to do nothing but legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Silk wrote on his campaign website, which he has kept operational, that the legislation does not mention people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

“In reality it has nothing to do with them. The intent of the bill is to protect private property rights and religious liberty,” Silk wrote. “People have a right to be homosexual and I will always protect that. However that right does not give them an excuse to trample another person's right to live out their religious beliefs in their place of business.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons enjoy legal protections to do just about everything a heterosexual person can do in Oklahoma. Same-sex marriage is legal. Same-sex adoption is legal. Same-sex sex is legal, too. But nothing in Oklahoma law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Silk does not want to take away any of those rights. He just wants to be sure business owners have the right to refuse to deal with anyone or do anything that would violate their beliefs.

Silk wrote on his website that he is not attacking the rights of the LGBT movement and believes they have the right to live how they want to live, and do what they want to do.

“They, on the other hand, are launching a massive campaign that is attempting to strip other people’s individual liberties away if they hold different beliefs,” he wrote. “This is complete intolerance.”

“The problem with the current LGBT movement is that they have zero tolerance or consideration of other people’s rights, and yes they are a threat to our freedoms and liberties in the United States and Oklahoma,” Silk added on his website.

Silk’s legislation, SB 440, is only one proposal to outrage Oklahoma LGBT community leaders. Another came from the office of Oklahoma Rep. Chuck Strohm (R).

The Republican’s “Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act” would allow bakers and photographers to turn away customers who would “violate the person’s religious beliefs.”

Democrat State Rep. Emily Virgin, with the assistance of the ACLU in Oklahoma, devised an interesting counter attack to Strohm’s proposal.

She added an amendment that would require businesses that plan to refuse service to LGBT people to post a sign on the door notifying their customers of the policy.

“This would save same-sex couples the trouble and embarrassment of going into that business just to be turned away,” Virgin wrote on her Facebook page.