The House of Representatives in Wyoming has advanced a bill which would allow businesses in Wyoming to deny services when the religious beliefs of that business disagree with people’s actions. And, of course, there is staunch opposition to the bill, despite a fair amount of support within the State Legislature. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Winters, has denied that it is a discrimination bill, but Representative Pelkey could cause “discomfort by some, particularly in the public sector.”
The issue here is whether a business has the right, based on religion, to deny service to someone based on that person’s actions. For years there have been signs on entrances to shops stating “no shirt, no shoes, no service”, which allows the business to deny service to someone not wearing a shirt. If that business owner chooses to not have the business provided by a potential customer without a shirt, that is the loss of that business – the shirtless customer could go elsewhere.
This bill allows for the same thing, but based on the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom. Under this law, a Jewish shop owner could deny business to a Catholic priest, but, as with the other shop owner, the Jewish shop owner will lose out on the business, as the priest will go elsewhere. Opponents of the law are declaring that businesses will be able to discriminate, and while that is a stretch of the term, should the law pass, these businesses will be able to pick and choose which customers they cater to, and the right to make those decisions will be guaranteed by the First Amendment, which guarantees the Freedom to practice one’s Religion as one sees fit. Those customers who are turned away from bakeries or photography studies will be able to take their business elsewhere, and the businesses who turned them away will have lost out on the business, and the revenue, which would have come had they not turned the customers away.
People in the United States have Rights given to them which have held for over 200 year. These Rights cannot be taken away without additional amendments to the Constitution. Government bodies must be constantly aware of any challenges to these Rights, and work tirelessly to ensure that the Rights are not infringed upon or violated. In Wyoming, the State Legislature is working to preserve the Right to Freedom of Religion by allowing a business to choose what customers will be served based on religious beliefs, just as those businesses that choose to not serve those customers without a shirt.