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Bill Would Protect Businesses If They Deny Service To Gays

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By Paul Johnson

Boise, Idaho ( KBOI-TV ) - Rep. Lynn Luker on Tuesday, presented a plan that would shield religious people from the threat of having their professional licenses revoked, if they refuse service to people they conclude violate their religious beliefs.

Luker, a Boise Republican, knows of no example in Idaho of an actual challenge to a professional's license on these grounds. Still, he points to efforts by gays and lesbians elsewhere seeking to end what they contend is discrimination against them as a sign Idaho must act quickly to protect the faithful before something similar arises closer to home.

"This is pre-emptive," Luker said. "The issue is coming, whether it's 10 years, or 15 years, or two years."

Among cases Luker cites as a catalyst for his proposal, which now awaits a full hearing, is that of a suburban Portland bakery that refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries determined that Sweet Cakes by Melissa unlawfully discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation. That case is in the midst of settlement talks.

New Mexico also has been scene of a court fight after a photographer declined to take pictures of a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony, arguing she was exercising her rights to free speech and artistic freedom.

Unlike those states, Idaho's Human Rights Act includes no such protections for gays and lesbians. Republican lawmakers have rejected efforts to add them.

An exception: Emergency personnel couldn't refuse to treat somebody, Luker said.

Additionally, he said, his bill doesn't authorize "the intentional infliction of emotional or physical injury."


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