Kentucky Bill Allowing Businesses to Deny Services to Gays Advances

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky businesses could invoke their religious beliefs to refuse service to gay, lesbian or transgender customers under a bill passed by the state Senate.

The measure passed the Republican-led Senate on a 22-16 vote Tuesday. It’s a response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Republican Sen. Albert Robinson says his bill seeks to protect businesses from civil damages and legal fees for refusing to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations due to conscientious objections.

Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas says the bill promotes “bigotry and hatred.”

The Senate narrowed the bill’s application to businesses providing customized or creative goods and services. That could include bakeries, florists and photographers.

The bill goes to the Democratic-controlled House next.