About the Episode
Today I have on the phone Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, Florida. He declared his business a “Muslim-free zone”….Can a Business Refuse Service to Someone? Can we pick and choose what parts of the constitution we are going to uphold? What do the anti-discrimination laws actually say?
At the heart of the debate is a system of anti-discrimination laws enacted by federal, state and local governments. The entire United States is covered by the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination by privately owned places of public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Places of “public accommodation” include hotels, restaurants, theaters, banks, health clubs and stores. Nonprofit organizations such as churches are generally exempt from the law.
The right of public accommodation is also guaranteed to disabled citizens under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination by private businesses based on disability.
The federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, so gays are not a protected group under the federal law. However, about 20 states, including New York and California, have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. In California, you also can’t discriminate based on someone’s unconventional dress. In some states, like Arizona, there’s no state law banning discrimination against gays, but there are local laws in some cities that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.
So, no matter where you live, you cannot deny service to someone because of his or her race, color, religion, national origin or disability.