Minnesota Senate Republicans are introducing a bill to allow small businesses to refuse service for same-sex weddings. Coupled with earlier anti-transgender legislation, the move will allow the party's state house and senate candidates in rural swing districts to campaign on one of 2014's winning messages: anti-equality.
Given the absence of any statewide race and the relative unpopularity of Hillary Clinton in Greater Minnesota, the strategy will allow Republican candidates and the social conservative groups who love them (the Freedom Club comes to mind) to run relatively subdued anti-LGBTQ campaigns, while the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, Minnesota Action Network and their kindred pound vulnerable rural senators on the new Senate Office Building, a $100,000 campaign finance violation by the DFL Senate Caucus campaign committee and other such Sins of Bakk.
The Republican Party won't have to worry about its weak statewide candidates; instead, the party and its IE allies can focus on corruption and economic issues in retail races, whilethe candidates in those races in deep social conservative rural districts can go door-to-door about hating on the gay and excluding transgender kids.
The bills aren't for the floor; they're for the doors outside the metro (it's a different ground game in the first-tier suburbs).
Not every observer agrees. For a different analysis, check out Doug Grow's Lawmaker introduces 'Freedom of Conscience' bill; says measure is not anti-gay at MinnPost, which has Republican leadership running away from the bill.
The new bill
Bluestem believes that conversation will take place "at the doors," on the airwaves of small radio station markets, in Freedom Club mailers and Minnesota Family Council emails.
The Pioneer Press's David Montgomery reports in Senators propose refusal of service for gay weddings:
Months after Indiana provoked a national uproar with a law allowing people to refuse service to same-sex couples, a Minnesota senator is proposing a similar — but more limited — measure here.
Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said a family in his district was fined for refusing to host a same-sex wedding on their property.
“I was one of the legislators who opposed gay marriage but even then I said that gays and lesbians should be able to live as they choose,” Gazelka said. “I’m simply asking that Christians and people of faith be allowed to live as they choose without… threat of punishment.”
His bill would protect the right of religious organizations and small businesses to refuse service for same-sex weddings. Unlike the bills in Indiana and other states, Gazelka would only apply those protections to weddings, and not create a broader right to refuse service where someone had strong conscientious objections.
The Minnesota Legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, after voters rejected a gay marriage ban at the 2012 general election. State law prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation, a provision that Gazelka’s bill would create a limited exception to in the case of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” . . .
Montgomery also tweeted:
Rep. Tim Miller made House leadership aware of "freedom of conscience" bill. "No one said 'no no no' by any sense," though focus on budget.— David Montgomery (@dhmontgomery) May 7, 2015
At The Column, Andy Birkey reports in MN GOP introduces bill to allow discrimination against same-sex couples:
. . .The bill has not yet been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature but is expected to drop in the next few days. It likely won’t receive any action with only days left in the legislative session, but because it was introduced in the first year of the biennium, it will be in play in 2016. According to Star Tribune reporter Abby Simons, Republican Senators Michelle Benson of Ham Lake, Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, and Dan Hall of Burnsville are co-authors.
Read the bill at Birkey's post. We'll keep an eye on when "religious freedom" and safe bathroom discussions turn up in Greater Minnesota traditional and social media.
Photo: Freedom from the bondage of dude-marrying wedding cakes. Swiped from Thug in Pastel's post, When did gay-hating bakers become a thing?
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