NH Bill Would Allow Service Refusal To Gay Couples

By Lauren Leamanczyk, WBZ-TV

CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) – New Hampshire business owners could soon have the legal right to decide who they serve.

Lawmakers are debating a bill that would let a business refuse service to any couple, for any reason.

As a business owner, Tim Kierstead believes in the right to run his restaurant the way he sees fit.

“I think each business has the right to do as they choose,” he told WBZ-TV.

But as a gay man, he has a real problem with the new bill being proposed.

It would allow businesses to refuse service to a couple if they didn’t agree with their marriage.

“When the government starts getting involved, it turns around and brings in a whole new light. We turn around and now we’re becoming second-class citizens. I mean, they don’t have a right. Where’s the line going to be drawn?”

The bill never specifically mentions gay marriage and opponents say it could be used to allow businesses to discriminate against anyone whose marriage they didn’t agree with.

The bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Frank Sapareto, a Republican from Derry, said this is not a gay rights issue, but a religious freedom case.

“We’re certainly taking people’s freedoms away as we make more and more laws that force them to provide occupation or services that violate their beliefs,” Sapareto told WBZ.

And he told me, that could include refusing service to any group.

“I, as a business man, have a right to do business with who I want to.”

WBZ-TV’s Lauren Leamanczyk reports

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

But outside on Main Street, business owners saw it differently.

“We don’t ask those questions and we don’t care,” Audrey Little said.

Little provides her caramel apples and chocolates for all sorts of weddings.

In this economy, a customer is a customer.

“It would be foolish for us to turn any kind of customer away,” she said.

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