SD GOP Lawmaker: Businesses Should Be Able to Deny Gays, African-Americans
State Sen. Phil Jensen (R-S.D.) is making headlines this week after proposing a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service based on a customer's sexual orientation. In an interview with Rapid City Journal, he discussed his copycat version of Arizona's SB 1062, and also argued that similar legislation should be created to protect those who want to deny African-American's service.
"If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them," Jensen told the publication.
Jensen's anti-gay bill, SB 128, was introduced in January but failed to advance in the South Dakota Legislation, the Huffington Post reports. The measure would allow businesses and residents to refuse service to LGBT people in the name of their religious beliefs.
Earlier this year, the South Dakota Senate Judiciary committee voted 5-2 to nix Jensen's measure. Sen. Mark Kirkeby (R) said the proposed legislation is "mean, nasty, hateful, vindictive bill."
Nevertheless, the lawmaker defended SB 128 in his Rapid City Journal interview, saying that the legislation failed as "a bill that protects the constitutional right to free association, the right to free speech and private property rights."
David Patton, the president of the Black Hills Center for Equality, who has opposed the measure, said that there needs to be civil rights legislation to protect minority groups.
"The free market didn't do away with slavery," Patton told the publication.
This isn't the first time Jensen has proposed a controversial measure. Back in 2011, he sponsored a bill that would justify the killing of doctors who perform abortions, in order to protect the killing of unborn children.