Tenn. Legislation Would Allow Businesses to Deny Service to Same-Sex Couples

Feb 17, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Tennessee legislators will consider a bill tomorrow that would allow wedding-related businesses to refuse to provide services based on religious beliefs.

Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and Knoxville Rep. Bill Dunn are sponsoring the proposal. It was introduced in the wake of recent court rulings in other states striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

Bell says he thinks Tennessee's ban will be overturned eventually and the bill would protect the religious beliefs of business owners.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg calls the bill is discriminatory.

“What we see happening here is the attempt to allow individuals to use their religion to discriminate, and that the state becomes party to that by passing laws that would in fact codify discrimination.”

Weinberg says the Tennessee bill was the first of its kind in the nation, but has since been duplicated by legislators in other states.

Bell and Dunn did not return WMOT calls asking for additional comment.