Does a business have the right to refuse service to anyone as they see fit?
The answer is NO.
The 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the legal right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
Many states also passed their own Civil Rights laws to extend the federal protection even further. For example, California passed the Unruh Civil Rights Act which also makes it illegal to discriminate against any person because of unconventional dress or sexual orientation. But unfortunately not all states followed California’s lead.
Now, do businesses have the right to refuse service for other reasons? YES, of course.
Basically, if there is a legitimate business reason to deny service, like general disruption or drunkenness, for example, then there is legal precedence for the business to refuse service.
The reason there has been so much uproar recently about these new Religious Freedom Laws in Republican states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Arkansas is that they basically give businesses the legal right to refuse service and discriminate against patrons because of their sexual orientation under the protection of “religious freedom.”
And one of the big problems with the laws passed in places like North Carolina, Indiana, and Arkansas is that unlike the other states who have similar Religious Freedom Laws, these three offer absolutely no protection for gays. These three laws were written clearly with the intent of leaving that protection out.
Many of these laws are being written by Republicans who are livid about the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. And so these Religious Freedom Laws (with the clause protecting discrimination against gays purposefully left out) are a way of trying to shield businesses in their states from having to accept or deal with gay marriage.
It is inevitable that these Religious Freedom Laws will end up before the Supreme Court. And I really don’t see any way that the court will uphold these discriminatory laws. But in the meantime states like NC, IN, and AR are facing some serious backlash by the American public who simply no longer have the stomach for this kind of bigotry. And of course, in the process, the Republican party continues to dig themselves deeper and deeper into this ugly hole and are alienating large sectors of the population.
Good job righties. Let us know how this all works out for you…..