Representative Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen, had one heckova of week at the end of January, and her adventures illustrate why some Minnesotans might think she's a bit silly at times.
In Tuesday's Column, Andy Birkey reports Right to discriminate bill introduced in Minnesota House:
Republicans in the Minnesota House introduced prefiled a bill that would allow people, organizations, and businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious belief. The bill was posted to the Minnesota House website on Friday.
The bill, HF2462, was introduced by Republican Reps. Duane Quam of Byron and Cindy Pugh of Chanhassen.
The bill states:
Notwithstanding chapter 363A or any law to the contrary, no person, organization, or entity shall incur a civil or criminal penalty for refusing to provide a service, or refusing to allow the use of property or facilities for any activity that is prohibited by or is against the person’s, organization’s, or entity’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
Quam hinted in late 2015 that he would be offering the bill.
We understand why everyone is framing this in terms of same-sex marriage, but Bluestem would like to point out that the language of Minnesota Statute 363A isn't just about gay wedding cakes or lesbian lodge leasing or transgender trysting at timeshares.
As we pointed last October in Gay-hating cake bakers & alcohol-loathing hacks will be free to discriminate if Quam has his way, refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious belief isn't the only form of discrimination that's been tried in recent memory in Minnesota. We pointed out:
. . . [the] narrow focus on gay wedding cakes misses a chance to look at a fairly example n Minnesota of people refusing others service because of a sincerely held religious belief.
In 2007, Reuters reported in Minnesota's Muslim cab drivers face crackdown:
Muslim cab drivers at Minnesota's biggest airport will face new penalties including a two-year revocation of their taxi permits if they refuse to give rides to travelers carrying liquor or accompanied by dogs, the board overseeing operations ruled Monday.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission, responding to complaints about the liquor issue, voted unanimously to impose the new penalties beginning in May.
A large number of taxi drivers in the area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Muslim Somali immigrants. Many say they feel the faith's ban on alcohol consumption includes transporting anyone carrying it.
Some also have refused to transport dogs, both pets and guide dogs, saying they are unclean.
The taxi drivers challenged the policy in court, but lost their case in 2008.
Islam's prohibition against consumption would allow Muslim cabbies' "sincerely held religious beliefs" to refuse transporting travelers carrying alcohol. In 2007, the Washington Post reported:
Last year  the airports commission received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. The fatwa said "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, "because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam."
At the time, one local religious authority also backed up the notion that dogs are "unclean," though in the Huffington Post article Islam On Dogs: Can You Be A Good Muslim And Still Have A Dog?, Omar Sacirbey noted:
Yet many Muslims all over the world have dogs, and dogs figure prominently is some Islamic countries, such as Turkey, famous for its Kangal and Akbash breeds.
"This has always been a touchy issue for me, trying to balance my needs for a guide dog and the concerns within the Muslim community," said Mazen Basrawi, a blind Muslim-American lawyer in Washington D.C., who has had two seeing eye-dogs since he was 18.
Islamic scripture and tradition does not provide a definitive guide to all matters canine.
But Quam wants to be "sure no individual or business can be forced to violate their religious beliefs," if some folks sincerely believe that dogs are dirty, the service dog and human companion would be out of luck.
Bluestem thinks that those gay-hating bakers can just deal with marriage equality, as some Muslim cab drivers have had to deal with alcohol and dogs. That's blunt language, but the protections for human rights are consistent--as are the exemptions for houses of worship and religious organizations.
Back to Cindy Pugh's wild week. As we pointed out in Four MN House Republicans introduce companion to Senator Brown's "foreign law" bill, she's a co-author of the anti-Sharia bill, introduced on the same day as the right to discriminate bill.
So she's against Sharia law while being for it. Or something. We think that preserving non-discrimination laws--in which all people of faith or lack there of must do their jobs and provide the services and accommodations than make a civil society function.
Photo: Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen.
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