Colorado state senators today batted down the second attempt of this legislative session to allow businesses to refuse services to potential customers that would violate their personal beliefs.
Senate Bill 283, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, was an expansion of another bill, House Bill 1013, that was killed in January in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. But where HB 1013 allowed operators of private businesses to deny services if the requested service violated their free exercise of religion, SB 283 more broadly stated that such companies could decline service if that service conveyed a message with which the business or business owner disagrees or chooses not to associate with the business.
The revived effort is part of series of such freedom-of-conscience bills being run across the country as particularly religious legislators worry that business owners could be forced to provide services for a same-sex wedding or other event that violates their religious beliefs. Lundberg said that 57 such bills have been introduced in 32 states in 2017.
In Colorado, the state punished a Lakewood bakery that declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. In other states, businesses such as photographers have been hit with significant fines for failing to take part in similar nuptials.