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Religious liberty and gay rights in workplace discrimination

Missouri residents may be interested in accounts of numerous recent controversies involving businesses claiming that their religious liberties allow them to refuse to hire or serve members of the LGBT community . For many privately held businesses, what some in the LGBT community call employment discrimination or even bigotry against certain customers is merely an exercise of their right to religious freedom. Gay and lesbian marriage may be be legal in some states, but that hasn't stopped some business owners from standing against it.

One Oregon bakery closed its doors rather than make wedding cakes for gay couples. In New Mexico, where same-sex marriage is not currently legally recognized, the state Supreme Court barred wedding photographers from discriminating against gay and lesbian couples and refusing to shoot their ceremonies. One justice noted that a gay wedding there today is like an interracial wedding a generation or two ago, and that it is one's civic duty to work with these couples.

As of this writing, employment laws in 21 states bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, but most states have laws making exemptions for religious organizations. Repeated attempts by Congress to pass legislation prohibiting anti-gay discrimination nationwide have to date failed.

Employers may claim any excuse they want for workplace harassment or employment discrimination, but they must still obey the law. An attorney with experience in fighting for clients' employee rights may be able to help in cases of wage discrimination, age discrimination, gender discrimination and any other workplace discrimination. A lawyer may be able to assist federal employees in protecting their civil rights against unlawful discrimination as well.

Source: Huffington Post, "Religious Liberty Pitted Against Gay Rights In Discrimination Lawsuits", Sarah Pulliam Bailey, September 08, 2013

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