Republican state senator Phil Jensen of Rapid City is taking an online pounding for statements that were published during a weekend interview.
Jensen was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 128. It was one of several bills this session that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers.
Jensen spoke to the legislation during an interview with the Rapid City Journal.
Jensen goes so far as to say that businesses should have the right to deny service based on a customer's race or religion – whether that's right or wrong, he says, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government.The response to Jensen's comments on social media has been blistering.
"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," he said.
This is just a small sampling of some of the criticism to be found on Twitter.
I detest Jensen's comparison. He's completely missed the point as to why supporters of religious liberty, like me, defended his bill.
The issue has never been about the right to refuse service to all gays and lesbians. They should have the same right to public accommodation that we all enjoy. This shouldn't be about the right to discriminate against anyone.
The question is whether a person of conscience should be able to legally decline to participate in a same sex wedding or ceremony if they find it morally objectionable. Too many are being punished by state governments for the expression of their deeply held religious values.
Jensen's comments greatly obscure the real issue. He's thrown red meat to the liberal left and they're having a field day with his nutty comments. Now it will be even more difficult in the future to pass any meaningful legislation defending religious liberty.
Thankfully, a growing number of notable gay rights and same sex wedding supporters are sympathetic to these efforts to protect religious freedom. Perhaps its because some of them understand persecution all too well. I'm grateful for their understanding and support.
The legislative efforts this year, in both South Dakota and Arizona, have shown that all of us have got a long way to go when it comes to tolerance of those who believe differently than we do.
Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.