A South Dakota lawmaker apologized after posting a comment on Facebook arguing that businesses should be allowed to “turn away people of color” if they want to, the Argus Leader reported.
State Rep. Michael Clark (R) sent the apology via email to the Argus Leader about an hour after the newspaper published a story about the comment, claiming he would “never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race.”
But Clark also told the newspaper that he thinks business owners should be able to turn away customers “if it’s truly his strongly based belief.”
“People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business,” he reportedly said, adding that if people don’t like the way a business treats customers, they can put the company out of business.
Clark, who is running for reelection in November, posted the racist comment on Facebook under an article he linked to about the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple for religious reasons. He called the decision a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
According to a screenshot of the comment obtained by the Argus Leader, Clark was responding to a Facebook user who said if the baker “didn’t want to do a wedding cake because a couple is black you would support that as well.”
“It is his business. He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants. If he wants to turn away people of color, then that (sic) his choice,” Clark said in response.
Other commenters immediately shot Clark down, questioning how a person could be elected to the state legislature without the understanding of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Clark did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.