HB1597 – Empowers business to refuse service to the LBGT community

The intent of HB1597 is to permit businesses to refuse services to someone from the gay community regardless of whether is against their deeply held religious beliefs or not. Therefore, HB1597 is not specifically a religious rights bill though it would allow Christian business owners, religious schools and other entities to refuse service for religious reasons. While acknowledging that several federal courts have overthrown laws that banned same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right and the religious community is justified in their concern on how the balance between these rights is to be adjudicated.

HB1598 – Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy

House Bill 1598 would allow adults or parents with minor children to seek “Conversion Therapy” for sexual orientation or gender identity. Without a doubt the treatment has its detractors. In a statement issued in 2013, the American Counseling Association states that conversion therapy is “unproven and developing” and contains “certain risks” though they do not specifically prohibit the practice. Their caution is largely due to the fact that those seeking the treatment generally regard homosexuality as something abnormal, a position they reject a priori. In a world where people radically change many things about themselves physically and mentally, it seems odd that anyone would want to specifically ban someone from seeking to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to match their physical appearance even if there were risks involved. Surely, there are risks involved in hormone therapy, sex-change operations, body modification and other procedures that are done all the time.

This is also a parents’ rights bill in the sense that it gives parents the rights to seek conversion therapy for their minor children. Consider that parents seek to change their children for the better (as they define it) all the time. This includes social behaviors as well as physical appearance and is done through counselors, diet, medications and medical procedures. It seems natural that it is the parents’ choice in what treatments they seek for their own children. Those that object to this do so assuming that alternate sexual orientations and gender identities are natural and immutable, both of which are inconsistent with the Christian worldview.

HB1599 – Prohibits State Workers from Granting Same Sex Marriages

As in HB 1597, there are no religious issues here to address as this bill is not explicitly a religious rights bill. However, HB1125, proposed by Todd Russ, proposes removing marriage as an official duty of the state. This may allow for a peaceful resolution to the controversy of who is granting licenses, but does nothing to resolving the conflict in recognition of those rights after the ceremony.