In 29 States, You Can Be Refused Service At Any Restaurant Because You’re Gay

Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed Rand Paul, the newly chosen Republican Senatorial candidate in the state of Kentucky. Throughout the 19-minute interview, Paul adamantly used every subject-changing trick in the book to keep from saying what he really thinks about legal discrimination.

Specifically, he was desperate not to admit on camera that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it made discrimination by businesses (restaurants, bus companies, etc.) illegal.

It’s shockingly outdated thinking, right? Totally reprehensible, with no stipulations or exemptions. Hopefully this interview will help keep Paul from being elected, but how would Americans react if he said that the same type of discrimination by the same type of business is okay if the victims are gay?

Unfortunately, we found out the answer to that question last night too, on ABC’s What Would You Do? The hidden camera show hosted by John Quiñones spent an eye-opening segment finding out what would happen if a waiter verbally abused a gay family (in front of their young children, no less) and refused to serve them.

Understand, every bit of what you just watched is 100% legal in 29 states.

And I find it striking that the majority of the people who spoke up were members of a minority group. That should tell us something about the discrimination.

According to ABC, refusing service to people (including straight people) because of their orientation is legal in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

There is no current movement to add LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act to stop this kind of abhorrent, state-sanctioned discrimination.

(Incidentally, I got this Gatorade commercial in the middle of the show. I found the song terribly appropriate.)

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14 thoughts on “In 29 States, You Can Be Refused Service At Any Restaurant Because You’re Gay

  1. Trans people can be refused service in those states, and six others too. Including Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire – states where  same-sex marriage is legal.

    LGB protection – good. LGBT – not so much. Many Gays are fine with that.

  2. This pissed me off more than you know. I live in a city right outside of Atlanta and I do believe if ANYONE refused service to me and my partner or me and my gay friends… I would loose it. This is why I hate paying taxes because the assholes in the government only work 1/4 of the year working and part of that time they use to sleep and read newspapers (I have seen it). They need to start working 9-5 with all of the same speeding laws that we have and allowed a 2 week paid vacation 4 sicks days and thats it! 

    1. I know that I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that discriminated against GLBT people and I doubt I am a small minority. If any restaurant denies GLBT people service on account of their sexual orientlose my business. Part of the problem with segregation was ation I would never eat at them again and then they would that if blacks were allowed into a restaurant whites wanted nothing to do with it so it was in the restaurants best economic interests to discriminate. In the case of GLBT being denied service even those who are intolerant of GLBT people will eat at restaurants that serve GLBT people and I doubt they will be offended when their intolerance isn’t recognized. 

  3. Just found out about this while watching ABC’s ‘What Would You Do?’ on You Tube. I’m Canadian and refusing gays service at a restaurant in Canada would be considered a violation someone’s Charter Rights and would be considered illegal. I’m shocked that it’s legal to do so in some states. Here’s hoping that such vile laws will be repealed in the name of human decency.  

    1. Christopher, ABC is dredging this stuff up to take aim at conservatives.  It would be much more believable if it was on hidden camera, but it was not, and this was totally an act.  Until someone shows me a hidden camera where this actually happened, I don’t believe a word of it.  See my posts above. 

  4. You make him out to be anti gay, you missed the point. He is saying that there is nothing wrong with a store owner to be able to refuse to serve anyone they want.  There was a story recently of a restaurant refusing to serve an ANTI gay politician. You don’t see people up in arms over that store owner’s decision but it’s EXACTLY the same as a store owner who refuses to serve a gay person. The double standard is bullshit.

    1. You made an error. The opposite of gay isn’t anti-gay, it’s straight. 

      I would generally have a problem with refusing service based on someone’s heterosexuality, if that happened in America, which it doesn’t. Refusing service based on a person’s stated and politically-powerful bigotry, though, is fine by me.

  5. I don’t know about the other states on the list, but in Pennsylvania, at least, it’s legal for a business to refuse to serve someone for ANY reason.  The law does not exclude sexual orientation as a reason.   If the other states are anything like that, I think complaining about this situation is a bit disingenuous- this isn’t a problem of law, it’s a problem of people being assholes.   

    1. Sorry, you’re wrong. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 override those laws. It is illegal to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, religion, and a few other qualities, most of which (with the exception of religion) are immutable characteristics. LGBT people are not protected under these laws, though most people (including most LGBT people) think we are.

  6. To Rachel Maddow….If you’re going down that road about Civil Rights and who voted for and against it in 1964, you should know that Al Gore’s father voted against it.  In fact, 6 Republicans and 21 Democrats voted AGAINST civil rights.  I have never heard that Rand Paul was against Civil Rights.   Rachel Maddow is nothing but a trouble maker and has a habit of putting words in peoples’ mouths.  She needs to be taken off the air.  She’s a despicable human.

  7. C’mon folks.  Have you ever been refused service in a restaurant, for any reason in recent times?  I know that the law is still on some states’ books, but so is a law in Cleveland that states that it is illegal to catch mice without a hunting license…it’s true.  Check it out.   It’s an election year, so ABC is dredging up all it can to take aim at conservatives.  When in fact, it should be taking aim at liberals, and reporting that we now have over one half of the population on welfare/food stamps/government assistance.  What a crime that is. 

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