USA, Arizona: Senate Passes “Right to Discriminate” Bill

Written by scott on February 20th, 2014

Arizona mapUnlike their peers in Kansas, Tennessee, and South Dakota, the AZ legislature is pressing ahead with a bill to enshrine the right to discriminate against just about anyone in the law. reports:

Arizona’s Senate has voted 17-13 to approve a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs, the Arizona Daily Star reports: The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation. Sen. Steve Yarbrough (pictured), R-Chandler, said that’s a separate issue from what he is trying to do…. “This bill is not about discrimination,” he said. “It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.” According to an earlier report in the Star, “SB 1062 would allow businesses sued in a civil case to claim they have a legal right to not provide service to an individual or group because it would “substantially burden” their freedom of religion.”

There’s simply no way this law is constitutional – it’s far too broad.

In related news, an Idaho lawmaker has withdrawn his own “Right to Discriminate” bill, for now.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Republican Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise says his measure was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, but was misinterpreted to be a “sword for discrimination.” A previous hearing on his measure lasted nearly four hours and drew hundreds to the Capitol. Luker says he respects concerns he heard and as a result plans to take more time to work on the bill, which he proposed in the wake of cases in Oregon and New Mexico where gay people who were refused service brought claims against businesses.

Think Progress looks at the failure of most of these bills so far:

Conservative argue that “religious liberty” extends to allowing business owners to discriminate against married same-sex couples, because recognizing such unions would violate their religious beliefs. New efforts to explicitly codify that discrimination into law, however, have backfired in several states over the past week. Not only have businesses expressed concerns about how they would be implemented, but even Republican leadership in these conservative states have objected to the notion that discrimination needs to be enshrined into law.

And Andrew Sullivan has a test to see if these bills are really about “religious liberty”, or actually about animus against gays.

So it also seems to me that the one demand we should make of such a defense of religious freedom is that it be consistent. For me, with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of previously divorced people?

It’s a good question.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.


3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Steve Rider says:

    The claim that these laws are intended to protect religious freedom is false, the actual intent of such obviously unconstitutional legislation is to protect and preserve the Sanctity of Bigotry.

    It’s not enough for some Christians to take away legal rights from a minority, they want to be praised and admired for doing so.

  2. Tom says:

    Catholics, don’t recognize marriages of non-Catholic’s generally, whether divorced or not. Is it permitted to discriminate if someone is not of your religion? I don’t mean to pick on Catholic’s especially, they could be real targets by some “Christians” who don’t believe Catholics are real Christians. Similar arguments can be leveled against other groups. These laws would completely eviserate anti discrimation laws, and seem to me to be patently illegal. This playing to the most intolerant is a waste of time and public resources, especially since such laws are unlikely to survive legal challenges.

    The opponents of gay rights are becoming desperate to stop the growth in freedom of those they have been taught to dispise. They cannot overcome their programming. It is in their interest to do so for their own sake. Racists angry with the gains in civil rights decades ago remain angry, shorten their lives and make themselves and others miserable. All for nothing.

  3. jerry says:

    This to shall pass. When challenged in a Federal Circuit Court….they will not be able to discriminate. Current history with the Federal Circuit Courts are paving the way to equality. GLBT should not be able to discriminate against Religious Freedom nor should Religion Freedom be able to discriminate GLBT. There is a little something call Separation of Church & State.

Leave a Comment