Yes, private business owners have First Amendment religious liberty on their property

Over the past several days, Idaho State Representative Lynn Luker, a Republican, authored a bill that would protect religious business people who refuse to do business with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals out of spiritual objections. The bill just today passed out of the House State Affairs Committee, 11-5.

While I would never want to do business with someone who would deny someone else service simply because of religion, the fact is is that Rep. Luker’s bill is correct that by simply owning and operating a private business one does not forfeit one’s First Amendment-protected rights of religious liberty, conscience and association, no matter if the institution’s main purpose is religious or secular.

Yes, obviously, customers who are pleasant and respectful *should* always be served as a matter of basic human decency, no matter their personal physical characteristics, but they have no inherent *right* to be that government is bound to enforce under threat of business license revocation–or worse.

However, much this debate I fear is more about one’s personal views toward the interested parties rather than the Objective principle of the thing. Those who are more inclined toward the LGBT community are against it; those who sympathize with conservative Christians support it.

There is no doubt in my mind that if situation were reversed and it was a gay business-owning coalition advocating a bill to retroactively shield them from legal retribution from not doing doing business with evangelical Christians, the situation would be flipped 180 degrees with both sides on the opposite ends that they are on now.

My position, however, along with everyone who consistently supports personal freedom no matter the person or group of persons at stake, would remain the exact same.


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