The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is helping Minnesotans, churches and business owners prepare for when same-sex marriage become recognized Aug. 1.

“This is a milestone for equal rights for all Minnesotans,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “Minnesota’s same-sex marriage law seeks to strike a delicate balance in recognizing individual liberty while respecting the nation’s long standing tradition of separating church and state.”

The human rights department said the new law does not force churches that object from performing same-sex marriages.

Agency officials cautioned, however, that the law does not exempt businesses, nonprofits, or business activities of faith groups from non-discrimination laws, even if members have religious objection to same-sex marriage.

That means businesses that historically provide wedding services and goods – like photographers, cake decorators, or wedding planners – can’t deny services to gay and lesbian couples based on sexual orientation.

Lindsey said Minnesota has already prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1993.

“Nothing has changed,” he said in a statement. “Denying commercial activity or refusing to enter into a commercial contract with someone on the basis of their sexual orientation has been against the law in Minnesota for 20 years.”

In other states where same-sex marriage is legal, lawsuits have been filed after business owners refused to provide a services for a same-sex wedding.

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