South Dakota Republican: Bakeries should be able to turn away blacks

A South Dakota Republican state senator thinks businesses should be able to turn away African-Americans.

And he’s standing by legislation that he thinks is a step in that proud direction: a bill to permit local businesses to turn away gay people.

The legislation is part of a larger Republican-led push to pass similar “religious freedom” gay-bashing bills in as many states as possible.


Arizona was one such state, until the legislation (SB1062) backfired, and major American companies, and eventually even some top Republicans, balked at the blatant discriminatory power grab, leading Arizona’s GOP governor to finally veto it.

Businesses became concerned that, for example, contracts could be broken by people (or companies) claiming the contract offended their religion.

From the Rapid City Journal.

From the Rapid City Journal.

But South Dakota’s Phil Jensen is undaunted. He stands by SB128, even though the bill was recently killed in committee.

Of course, the GOP state senator isn’t content with bashing gays.  He also wants to defend your inalienable right to kick black people out of your bakery (something that is rather illegal under federal and local civil rights laws).

“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.

Really? I can imagine a number of towns, especially in the south, where business would probably boom if a bakery refused to serve African-Americans.

And even that argument doesn’t entirely make sense.  If Jensen is trying to protect people’s freedom of religion, and believes that the law he’s proposing, if extended to race, would end up forcing religious people out of business, then how does that actually help religious people in the long-run, putting them out of business?

Mind you, a lot of people complained that Arizona’s law could lead to discrimination against blacks and others.  And the bill’s supporters said “gosh, no, no one is thinking that!”

The local paper in Rapid City, South Dakota had this to say about Jenkins:

On some occasions, it appears Jensen acts on his beliefs without considering the full impact of a proposed legislative measure.

That may be giving Jensen too much credit.  Perhaps he knows quite well who his proposal will harm. Perhaps he simply doesn’t care.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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