Friday, April 10, 2009
Faith based groups have to comply with anti-discrimination laws when they become public accomodations
One of the most popular stories at the Washington Post today (Good Friday, April 11) is one by Jacqueline Salmon, p A4, “Faith Groups Increasingly Lose Gay Rights Fights”, link here.
Although the law has generally allowed churches to follow their own beliefs in their own internal personnel policies (and exempted them from anti-discrimination laws), anti-discrimination laws have been enforced once faith-based groups become public accommodations and sell to the public. I suppose that would mean that “Christian” bookstore in a shopping mall in a city with an employment discrimination ordinance would have to follow the ordinance.
In some cases, courts have ruled that individual employees or even individual pharmacy stores, for example, can’t refuse to sell items for which they have religious objections, such as, in some cases, contraceptives, or assistance with artificial insemination.
Libertarians have opposed anti-discrimination laws in some cases, and turned things around by saying, for example, that gay bars should be able to hire only gay bartenders and barbacks. In practice, straight men (and women) often work in gay bars without any problem.