Republican Gov. Jan Brewer faced intensifying pressure Monday from CEOs, politicians in Washington and state lawmakers in her own party to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians…
Opponents call it a license to discriminate against gays.
Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that has passed. The efforts are stalled in Idaho, Ohio and Kansas.
Republicans stressed that the bill is not about discrimination but protecting religious freedom. They frequently cite the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple. They said Arizona needs a law to protect people in the state from heavy-handed actions by courts.
Call it what you want — anti-gay or religious rights — but if Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs a controversial bill, you might not be calling Arizona the home of the 2015 Super Bowl.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S.B. 1062, is the current controversy du jour out of Arizona, and the National Football League is with the opposition.
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. “We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
A personal call was placed by Apple to Arizona governor Jan Brewer, urging her to veto the state’s SB 1062 bill, which would allow Arizonans to discriminate against LGBT people (among other groups) on the basis of a religious objection. Businesses would have to uphold the state’s ruling, meaning employees of Apple’s factory as well as its retail stores there could refuse to hire or work alongside gays for personal beliefs, which probably flies in the face of Apple’s own anti-discrimination policies.
No fewer than 83 companies, inluding American Airlines and Marriott, have signed a letter supporting a veto of the bill saying that anti-gay legislation will hurt business.
Proponents of the legislation – which Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto and is reportedly leaning against – say the bill is designed to protect religious liberty. But many Washington Republicans see it as a political loser, giving the left another cudgel to attack conservatives as intolerant, while motivating liberals and younger voters ahead of the midterm elections. It also threatens to widen the chasm between social conservatives and GOP operatives, who have become increasingly public in their support for gay marriage.
“There are lots of economic and fiscal issues that people care pretty deeply about. I think those are good issues for us to focus on,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday when asked about the bill, SB 1062. “We’ll stay focused on Obamacare. Those are the issues we want to talk about.”…
If Brewer signs the legislation, the major concern of party strategists is that opponents would launch an initiative drive to overturn it. A referendum in November would allow the debate about whether denying services to gays is discriminatory to simmer through November, drawing global attention and increasing turnout among younger, liberal voters. This could complicate GOP hopes of holding the open governorship and picking up targeted House seats.
She has surprised us before, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is likely going to veto the state’s controversial bill that would let businesses refuse service to gay and lesbian customers on religious grounds, a move that again shows how much national politics have moved on social issues.
The determination, first reported Tuesday by NBC News, will bolster the unconventional governor’s image as a politician escaping neat, partisan definitions. But it also reaffirms her status as a stateswoman keenly aware of the politics of the moment, both in her state and around the country…
Beyond the political calculations, Brewer, who has until Saturday to make a decision on the bill, has also proved she is not nearly as conservative as her state Legislature, or her common caricatures, would lead us to believe. She has frequently confounded her own party by standing as a bulwark against her Republican state House’s agenda, including its opposition to Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which she embraced, or a push to allow guns on college campuses.
Under current Arizona law, if a business wanted to discriminate against gays, they would not need this bill to be passed to do so. It is not currently illegal for a business to deny service to someone because they are gay. Some cities in Arizona have ordinances against it but there is no state law against it. If business owners in Arizona wanted to deny service to gays, they could do so in most of the state under current law.
Even though business owners across most of Arizona (and much of the United States) have the right to deny service to gays, they are not doing so. Opponents of the bill claim it would usher in an era of “Jim Crow for gays,” in which gays would be denied service at businesses across the state. If business owners really wanted to do this, though, they could already be doing it. The bill does not make that more or less likely. Business owners do not want to deny service to gays. This is not because they fear government sanction. Rather, it is because: 1) Their religious, ethical or moral beliefs tell them it is wrong to deny service; and/or, 2) the profit motive – turning away customers is no way to run a business.
Arizona’s RFRA, as it currently stands, does not contain the necessary specificity regarding who can use RFRA for protection if the government discriminates against them because of their religious faith. Contrary to the voices that oppose protecting religious freedom for all Arizonans, Senate Bill 1062 and House Bill 2153, which were approved last week, will not allow people to do “whatever they want” in the name of religion.
The use of the amended RFRA will only come into play when the government’s law inhibits someone from freely acting in accordance with his or her faith, as has always been the case. And even then, sincerely held religious beliefs will continue to be balanced against state interests. So, Arizona will always be able to make certain things — like murder — crimes even if someone says that his religious beliefs require him to kill someone…
No Arizonan should be forced to choose between making a living and living free. An amended bill that provides a safeguard from laws that violate our First Amendment freedoms — while still letting government enact laws necessary to the common good — is a sensible one.
No court in Arizona should be able to tell you that a violation of those freedoms is just the “price of citizenship.”
But this is another example of how this schism cannot be easily brushed aside like so many wedding cake crumbs. In recent years, libertarian-leaning conservatives have largely sided with the gay rights argument. Proud members of the “leave us alone” coalition were apt to side with a group of people who just wanted to be left alone to love the person they love (and what happens in the bedroom is nobody’s business).
At some point, however, “leave us alone” became “bake us a cake. Or else!”…
The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages…
Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.
In T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, the nature of totalitarianism is captured in the motto “Everything not forbidden is compulsory.” Gay marriage has made the sprint from forbidden to compulsory in record time; the day before yesterday, a homosexual marriage was a legal impossibility — and today it is a crime to sit one out.
Gay Americans, like many members of minority groups, are poorly served by their self-styled leadership. Like feminists and union bosses, the leaders of the nation’s gay organizations suffer from oppression envy, likening their situation to that of black Americans — as though having to find a gay-friendly wedding planner (pro tip: try swinging a dead cat) were the moral equivalent of having spent centuries in slavery and systematic oppression under Jim Crow. Their goal is not toleration or even equal rights but official victim-group status under law and in civil society, allowing them to use the courts and other means of official coercion to impose their own values upon those who hold different values…
One of the defects of our civil-rights law is the overly broad concept of “public accommodation,” which has been expanded to include virtually every business that is open to the public. But a business is not public property; it is private property. People of good will ought to allow fairly broad leeway for how people conduct their own lives and their own business — private autonomy is, after all, a large part of the case for gay rights. If gay leaders were willing to extend to those who do not share their views the same tolerance to which they feel themselves entitled, then a modus vivendi could emerge through the healthful operations of civil society. Those who do not wish to participate in gay weddings or other events could decline to do so — and those who believe them to be bigots could take their business elsewhere. In fact, one protester of the Arizona law has precisely the right idea: Outraged by the passage of this bill, a pizza-shop operator hung a sign in his door announcing that members of the state legislature were personae non gratae in his establishment. That, and not the micromanagement of secular divines in black robes, is the way to sort out this kind of social controversy.
Via the Daily Rushbo.