Oregon Group Pushing for Religious Freedom Bill
Once again, we’re back at it with the so-called “religious freedom” bills. This time, it’s Oregon.
Once again, we’re back at it with the so-called “religious freedom” bills. An Oregon group called the Friends of Religious Freedom (affiliated with the Oregon Family Council) are working to get a petition signed that would allow business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples. We’ve recently seen very similar bills in Kansas, Tennessee and Arizona be seriously considered—only to be vetoed or dropped because officials determined that the negative effects would be severe.
The group is trying to get IP52 (the “Protect Religious Freedom Initiative”) on the ballot for November. A spokesperson for the group previously expressed concern about government hostility towards the freedom of religion. “We are deeply concerned that even Oregon elected officials are becoming hostile towards religious freedom,” the spokesperson said. Shawn Lindsay, a lawyer working with the group, issued a statement about the initiative.
“The Protect Religious Freedom Initiative will protect Oregonians from government penalties or civil actions for choosing non-participation in same-sex ceremonies that violate their conscience or religious beliefs. This initiative is different from Arizona’s legislation,” Lindsay stated. “Our initiative will protect an individual from being coerced to participate in a same-sex ceremony in violation of their conscience for fear of retribution; it does not seek an ‘exemption’ from providing service to individuals.”
However, other people don’t buy the rationale behind the initiative. Mike Marshall, campaign manager for Oregon United for Marriage, believes that the bill provides an easy way out to legalize discrimination. “That’s not what this law is,” he stated. “This is about allowing corporations and businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples on their wedding day.”
Earlier this year, it was determined that an Oregon bakery who refused service to a lesbian couple—because of their religious beliefs—had violated their civil rights. IP52, if added to the ballot and passed, would protect business owners like this.
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