MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was against Minnesota law to refuse wedding services to same-sex couples even before Minnesota legalized gay marriage in 2013.

But a Republican State Senator says businesses should not be forced to provide commercial services if it violates their religious beliefs.

“Now gay marriage is legal in Minnesota, and I’m simply asking that Christians and people of faith be able to live as they choose, without the threat of punishment from the government,” Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said.

The bill would allow businesses with 20 or fewer employees to refuse wedding services — including reception facilities, catering, accommodations and more if it “violates their religious belief that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman.”

OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest gay rights organization, says the Gazelka bill rolls back human rights laws, and is an attack on the freedom to marry.

And the Senate author of Minnesota’s gay marriage law calls it “discrimination.”

“When you open up for business, all kinds of people walk in your front door who are very, very different from you, who have different belief systems and different values,” Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “But we’re open to everyone. That’s what happens when you open your business to the public.”

There are only 11 days left in this legislative session, so the Religious Freedom Bill won’t get a hearing or a vote this year.

But it will be filed away for the summer, and will be alive when the House and Senate meet next year.

Pat Kessler

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