The Illinois Human Rights Act has an interesting section to it that reads:
Unlawful Discrimination. “Unlawful discrimination” means discrimination against a person because of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service as those terms are defined in this Section.
One of the biggest complaints out of the anti-marriage equality people and groups is how making marriage equality legal will drive “good Christian” businesses out of, well, business. Take, for instance, Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter’s recent statements about marriage equality passing the Illinois Senate.
He stated “To redefine marriage is discriminatory towards those who hold the sincerely held religious belief that it is a sacred institution between a man & a woman.” He also said “Businesses will be affected. Bed and breakfasts, florists, all those that are wedding-related, will be affected. They will choose to, most of them, dissolve their businesses. That’s what happened in other states.”
Of course, McCarter had fun during his testimony opposing the bill relying upon the standard “I’m not a homophobe because I have gay friends argument” in describing his supposed friendship with a gay couple who own a restaurant that he goes to. He also said that marriage equality is not a priority to them. Of course, if that is the argument being made, then we should scrap marriage entirely given the number of straight couples who don’t care about marriage at all.
Businesses have closed in other states because of laws like the Illinois Human Rights Act, not because of marriage equality. It might seem baffling to point this out, but, say, a lesbian couple could walk into a cake store and order a wedding cake in Illinois even if all they were doing was having a religious commitment ceremony. They could then have that order denied, and then charge the baker under that act.
Marriage equality is not what hurts these businesses. What hurts them is being bigots, and acting on that bigotry is already against the law in most states.