Feb 22, 2011 5:35 AM GMT
An Iowa House subcommittee will consider legislation Wednesday that would allow businesses and organizations to deny services to people whose marriage violates their personal religious beliefs.
The bill, which is aimed squarely at legally married same-sex couples in Iowa, mirrors legislative efforts in other states and has been characterized as “legalized discrimination” by civil rights advocates and legal scholars.
House Study Bill 50, also called the Religious Conscience Protection Act, would give religious institutions, including charities and schools, exemptions from performing, recognizing or providing services to couples in regards to celebrating their marriage, if the couple violates the institution’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill would create the same exemptions to small businesses from providing goods and services pertaining to a marriage for the same reason.
“This Marriage Discrimination Bill is another shameful and hurtful attack on the institution of marriage by members of the House Judiciary committee,” said Troy Price, political director of One Iowa. “This bill would not just affect LGBT couples, but opens the door to discrimination against interracial and interfaith couples.”
State Rep. Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City) a member of the Standing Judiciary Committee, said the bill directly violates the Iowa Civil Rights Code, and will also have a damaging effect on heterosexual couples who maybe interfaith or interracial.