Business acceptance next hurdle for same-sex couples

Business acceptance next hurdle for same-sex couples

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Nationally, once the gay marriage debate has ended in states, new debates arise.

For instance - can a private business discriminate against a gay couple or choose not to do business with them?

In Oregon, a $150,000 wedding cake sounds ridiculous, but, it's what a couple of bakery owners may have to shell out for refusing to do business with a gay couple.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, were found guilty last week of violating Oregon's anti-discrimination law, but had that bakery been in Alabama it would have been a different story.

"Private businesses can do that in Alabama," says Florence civil rights attorney Frank Sherrod.

In this pro-business State, there are some federal laws that companies can't get around, like discrimination based on race or gender, but when it comes to gay, lesbian, or bisexual individuals, Sherrod says, neither federal nor state law will help.

"None of those are protected right now under the current public accommodation laws," he says.

Currently, in Alabama, Sherrod says the law of public opinion will more than likely come before any laws are put on the books.

"I think there's a risk - certainly for business in this day and age - to refuse to accept gay customers, transgender customers, gay couples. I think there's a risk for those businesses is that they can get bad publicity," he says.

Copyright 2015 WAFF. All rights reserved.