Two gay guys walk into a bar. "Drinks all around, barkeep!" they shout. "We just got married!"
"No, sirs," responds the barkeep, pointing to the Christ-on-velvet over the jukebox. "We don't serve your kind here. Jesus says so."
Alas, the South Dakota Legislature isn't joking. Senate Bill 67 seeks to allow businesspeople to cloak their discrimination against homosexuals in religion:
No person or any personal business may be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if such action would cause any such person or personal business to violate the person's sincerely held religious beliefs [2014 Senate Bill 67].
Our distracted legislators are evidently responding to a case in Colorado in which a judge ruled last month that a bakery cannot refuse to serve gay customers. Alas, that ruling hinges on Colorado's public accommodation law, which has included since 2008 "sexual orientation" in its enumeration of protected classes. South Dakota's public accommodation law (SDCL 20-13-1) does not include sexual orientation, so SB 67 appears not to run afoul of other state statute... or, for that matter, even be necessary to uphold the bigotry already written into South Dakota law.
But Senate Bill 67 refers to any marriage. That's where Senate Bill 67 goes down in legal flames. As written, Senate Bill 67 would permit Biblically strict hoteliers to refuse to rent my wife and me a room, because my wife is Christian and I am not. Senate Bill 67 would allow pious South Dakota lawyers to refuse to draw up prenuptial agreement for a Jewish husband and Christian wife. Senate Bill 67 would protect the anti-miscegenist VFW clubs who claim God told them to refuse to rent their dance halls out to that nice Lakota girl and white boy who are getting hitched.
Any marriage. On that one word, Senate Bill 67 would never withstand judicial challenge. If sponsors Otten and Hickey (Pastor Steve, really? Don't you have bigger fish to fry?) want SB 67 to survive under South Dakota law, they have to make specific the target of their discrimination: the gay and lesbian couples who won a big Supreme Court last summer.
Even then, they will be defending injustice, telling lots of South Dakotans that they don't deserve equal access to public accommodations. What an ugly way to return to work after Martin Luther King Day.