Religious Liberties/Rights of Conscience of Business Owners in Doubt

Business owners who choose to run their business according to their faith by constructing a business model that reflects their moral convictions and basing day-to-day decisions on a deep abiding belief system can find themselves targeted for discrimination.

  • In new Mexico, a photographer who declined to avail her services to photograph a civil union ceremony for a lesbian couple was accused of discrimination and fined $7000 in 2009.
  • In Virginia, a video-duplication business was ordered to copy two documentaries promoting homosexual behavior, even though the business owner said that producing the material would violate his religious and ethical values
  • In Vermont, a same-sex couple filed a discrimination complaint against small family-owned inn when the owner expressed reluctance to host the couple's "wedding" ceremony because of his religious beliefs.
  • Denny's restaurant in Maine no longer restricts bathroom use based upon gender due to a lawsuit initiated when a man choosing to live life as a woman was asked to stay out of the women's restroom.
  • In Kentucky, a t-shirt company has been targeted by a lawsuit when for religious reasons they declined to produce t-shirts for a gay pride event.
  • In Hawaii, a home-based bed-and-breakfast owner was targeted by a discrimination lawsuit when for religious reasons she would not rent a room to a same-sex couple.

In Kansas these ordinances have been written to include the same provisions that have resulted in the legal claims noted above. 

In addition, the ordinances in Kansas include the following:

  • Businesses contracting for services of a certain dollar amount with the unit of government adopting the ordinance must also include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity in their business models or they cannot receive contracts.
  • Businesses cannot restrict bathroom access according to gender - individuals professing an alternative gender identity must be allowed to use the restroom of their choice.
  • Businesses cannot restrict locker room access according to gender- individuals professing an alternative gender identity must be allowed to use the restroom of their choice.  Guidelines suggest that business owners take the step of creating a separate space these individuals can use or make accommodation to allow for private use of the facilities if requested by the individual of alternative gender identity.

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