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AZ Senate GOP Pass Wide-Sweeping Religious License To Discriminate Against Gays

by David Badash on February 19, 2014

in Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,News,Politics,Religion

Post image for AZ Senate GOP Pass Wide-Sweeping Religious License To Discriminate Against Gays

On a party line vote, Arizona Senate Republicans this afternoon passed legislation providing people of faith with a religious license to discriminate against gay people. The “get out of jail free card” was sponsored by the conservative Christian Center for Arizona Policy and GOP state senator Steve Yarborough.

Yarborough today defended SB 1062, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by claiming the legislation “is not about allowing discrimination,” but rather, “is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Yarborough has been pushing variations of the pro-discrimination bill that gives special rights to people of faith since at least last year, and one so extreme that GOP Governor Jan Brewer refused to sign it.

UPDATE: AZ Lawmakers Send Religious License To Discriminate Against Gays Bill To Gov.

SB 1062, as The New Civil Rights Movement has previously reported, could also be considered the religious version of a “Stand Your Ground” law, allowing anyone’s practice or observance of religion to be an automatic “out.” In other words, it would give Arizona residents and businesses the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, including because they are LGBT.

Arizona Senate Democrats issued a strongly-worded statement following the bill’s passage.

“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”

The bill is so broad that it could be used in defense of breaking any Arizona law.

John Becker at Bilerico looks at it this way:

“Because Jesus” could literally become a valid excuse for refusing service to queers in the Grand Canyon State.

But conservative Arizonans should also remember that as there is no state-sanctioned religion in the United States, SB 1062 provides a foothold into Arizona of both Sharia law, and, yes, even Satanism. Believe it or not, “the Devil made me do it” — if the House approves the measure — will become the law of the land in the Grand Canyon state.

SB 1062 works both ways, conservatives.

Image by Mark Strozier via Flickr

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{ 18 comments }

tomtommmy February 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

if someone discriminates in any way , shape or form. that person is not a christian, in any way shape or form

Merv9999 February 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Hardly. The people pushing for anti-gay discrimination in the US are pretty much all Christians. You don't get to define their religion for them.

Merv9999 February 19, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Judging from the downvotes, it seems there are a lot of people in denial about who our enemies are. It's telling that they downvote my comment without any explanation as to why. Probably because they have no real argument.

Here is why I am right and my detractors are wrong:

- The person I responded to is using the "No True Scotsman" argument, which is a well-known logical fallacy.

- Polls show consistently that opposition to same-sex marriage is MUCH higher among Christians than non-religious.

- Our organized opposition is pretty much exclusively Christian: NOM, Conference of Catholic Bishops, Southern Baptist Convention, Family Research Council, ADF, etc., etc.

- Christian scripture is anti-gay, including saying that gay people should be executed (Leviticus 20:13).

- Historically and currently, the arguments used in legislating against gay people are almost always religious and specifically Christian. It couldn't be much clearer that that's the case for this Arizona legislation.

It's time we as a community snap out of our state of denial and acknowledge what is abundantly obvious: Our enemies are Christians.

billbo500 February 21, 2014 at 6:32 am

Christians are not your enemy, ignorance is is your enemy. You don't seem to know the difference between a Christian and a false Christian. It's like assuming someone is a homosexual because they do things a homosexual is believed to do. Doing some of the same things that many people claim to be "gay" does not make the person a homosexual. It's the same with Christians. Many may look from afar to be Christian but on closer inspection they are not. The sad part is both the Republican/ false Christian and the homosexual have the same problem, they reject the gift the Christ has given them.

A house divided shall not stand. In the end both reject God, but then fight each other.

pwrblnc February 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Let's see. If I start a religion that preaches intolerance for certain groups…say Republicans, crazy people with guns, hateful heterosexuals, bigots or right wing zealots, I could discriminate against them? Perfect. I might move there just so I can get this new religion started. The Church of Perfect Paybacks.

rainey13 February 19, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Now that's a church I'd consider joining!

SeanLiberty13 February 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm

They really want to turn this state into an uncivilized discriminatory free-for-all segregation based third-worldesque state? Then fine; let the sit-ins and civil unrest reminiscent of the 60's commence. I can't wait to open a boutique in one of those states just so that I can place two signs in the window; "No Anti-gays Allowed" and "Anti-gay Need Not Apply". One of the questions asked of potential employees will be "Do you support LGBT people?" If the answer is "no" then the job will not be offered. If you are against 2men or 2women marrying then you will not be welcomed in my store.

If this is what they want, then it will be applied to discrimination against anti-gays also. LGBT and straight ally waiters/waitresses will refuse to serve anti-gay people. Transportation drivers will refuse to allow anti-gays on their buses, taxis, planes, trains, etc. Sales clerks in pro-gay businesses will refuse to sell or ring up anti-gays. This list goes on. The anti-gay are extremely delusional and naive if they think this isn't going to backfire on them or be applied to them. I'm going to call every single pro-gay company and suggest that they refuse to hire, serve, or sell to anti-gay trash.

Ask the businesses like the Walgreens drugstore in Nashville Tennessee where Rodney Powell (sit-in organizer, Freedom Rider, Student of MLK, black and gay) led a sit-in on March 25, 1960 what happened to businesses who supported un-American, uncivilized segregation.

I can hear and see it now, "Before I take your order, are you anti-gay? Yes? Sorry, but I cannot take your order because your anti-gay values violate my deeply and sincerely held beliefs. Please leave."

The sit-ins will commence and every business that refuses to serve gays will be protested in and
around. There will be no peace in Arizona.

pwrblnc February 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Let's see. If I start a new religion that teaches intolerance to bigots I could discriminate against the Tea Party? I might just move there so I can get my new religion started. The Church of Common Sense.

dbcexplorer February 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Exactly! Their Jesus wouldn't have.

wisewater34 February 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

According to the Bible Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Would suggest that there is no possible way Christians could be discriminated against, because the current law of the land is God's will. Thus God wants homosexuals to get married.. LOL

billbo500 February 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

If you think about it, America was founded by sinner that rejected God. Wasn't it God that said not to rebel against the king. America was founded by rebel that rejected the king of England and therefore rejected Gods law. Or is it only the homosexual that sin?

Paul February 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I can't wait to see an intolerant bigot refuse service to two straight guys just because they walk in together. And then have the crap beaten out of them for thinking the bros are boyfriends. And what if a gay man spends $500 in one of these bigot-businesses and then his bf walks in a kisses him on the lips. Does the owner insist he cancels the transaction and lose $500? I don't think any of these idiots have thought about the practical application of such a law.

rainey13 February 19, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Great, the good ol' boys in the AZ legislature, wasting more time on bills that will cost ALL of the state's taxpayers big bucks when the inevitable civil rights lawsuits commence. I mean, it's not like we'd want them to concentrate on things like a balanced budget, fixing the education system, or jobs…

Merv9999 February 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm

For those interested, the text of the proposed legislation is here: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/51leg/2r/bills/sb106… It is only a couple pages long.

I'm not a lawyer, so take my following analysis with a large grain of salt…

It doesn't seem to be written by the same people as the Kansas and Tennessee bills. It is very broad, and does not speak specifically of sexual orientation or to weddings or marriage. Its main effect seems to be to apply a religious exemption to pretty much any state/county/local/etc. law, regulation, or government action unless it can pass a "compelling interest"/"least restrictive means" standard.

I didn't notice an exception for government employees. If that's true, then that would be a very big problem, because individual government employees might be able to deny services to a gay person (or anyone else) based on their religion.

According to Wikipedia, Arizona does not have any statewide anti-discrimination laws, although there is an executive order prohibiting discrimination in government. So, in general, it's already legal for private businesses to discriminate against gay people in Arizona.

Some localities (Phoenix, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Tucson, etc.) have local laws against discrimination in certain areas such as employment. The localities might not protect in all areas (for example, they might protect against employment discrimination but not discrimination in public accommodations such as inns and restaurants). This proposed law could present a problem by preempting these local laws.

Although it very well could, I don't think it's necessarily true that the proposed law will preempt local anti-discrimination laws. For example, the localities might be able to show that anti-discrimination laws serve a compelling government interest and are the least restrictive way to accomplish it. But, this proposed legislation certainly raises the bar by a lot.

BearFlagCitizen February 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

Beware the sword that swings both ways.

It is my deeply held, sincere, religious belief that right-wing nutjob Christians should not have their religious lifestyle choice respected or endorsed in any way. Therefore I shall refuse service to Christians.

Concerned50 February 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

WHERE IS THE BACKLASH TO LAWS LEGALIZING DISCRIMINATION?
Petition: Anti-gay hate isn't religious freedom http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/kansas_freedo
2-20-14 AZ Senate GOP Pass Wide-Sweeping Religious License To Discriminate Against Gays becoming the state that “Because Jesus” could literally become a valid excuse for refusing service to queers in the Grand Canyon State.” http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/az-senate-go
2-15-14: Kansas State Senators face Backlash and plot retreat – A Report from the Capital 'Oh, you come from that state that voted for discrimination, right? 'http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/14/1277718/-Kansas-State-Senators-face-Backlash-and-plot-retreat-A-Report-from-the-Capital?detail=email
2-15-14: Kansas clergy condemn 'religious freedom' bill as fraud Ministers urge Legislature to drop discriminatory House-passed measure http://cjonline.com/news/state/2014-02-14/kansas-
2-15-14: Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay Legislation http://www.politicususa.com/2014/02/15/kansas-sen
2-16-14 KANSAS From a friend: I live in Stockton, Kansas, in a county of about 5,000 people. Our state rep voted 'yes' on that 'religious liberty' bill that's been all the talk of town in the last few days. Great news coming from my little community! Liberals and conservatives, and independents and libertarians all agree on one thing. We all agree this bill, passed in our state house, was disgusting and abhorrent. We stand together against bigotry, hate, and homophobia, something I'm sure these Republicans Tea Party didn't think would happen. I can only imagine our elected officials thought pass a law that rode that Duck Dynasty wave of bigotry, disguised as religion, but they were wrong. They tried 'playing us too close,' and they failed. Here's hoping my tiny town and surrounding community remembers come November, and in 2016, how their representatives voted. — in Stockton, Kansas.
2-16-14 MISSOURI Showing Love instead of Hate! Students Block Westboro Baptist Church's Michael Sam Protest With Wall Of Love http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/16/westboro

drhelldigger February 20, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Its funny reading the litany of HATERS who rile against Traditional marriage supporters.
I'm not religious but I support all people's right to honor marriage as the Union of Bride and Groom as husband and wife. I support the freedom people have to support and give service to whom ever they feel comfortable with and are not forced to put themselves in situations they abhor.

I would refuse to work at a MS13 Wedding and should be able to work where I want without being forced to.

billbo500 February 21, 2014 at 6:05 am

Arizona home of sun-burnt brains. Try as I will I can not find anything in the bible that remotely suggest one should act this way as a Christian. In fact is quite the opposite. We should only shun the Christian that acts like a pagan. Therefore a Christian business can only discriminate against other Christians.
According to my understanding of what God wants me to do I should shun the entire Republican Party. They claim to be Christian, yet do not follow his will, and are actively sinning against there fellow humans. I can not shun the Homosexual no matter how much I disagree with his or her behavior. God wants us (Christians) to be an example to the active sinner with the hope they will accept the gift The Christ gave them.

The real question the authors of this bill (who are not Christian) need to answer is what is their intent. It seems the real goal is to redefine what (yes what not who)a person is. Sadly being human is not required to be a person according to this bill.
This bill redefines a person as ANY INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION, ESTATE, TRUST, FOUNDATION OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.

None of these new persons can worship God. If they get away with this, will these new persons be able to vote?

I've said it before and I will say it again. One can not be a Republicans and a Christian. You must chose whom you will serve, your party or God. The two are mutually exclusive.

The funniest thing about the whole homosexual debate is homosexual behavior is not talked about much in the bible. And the basic sin of the sodomites is they were Republicans (they had plenty of food and free time, but did not care for the poor and needy) . If anyone is in the fast lane to hell it's the Republicans. REPENT, and sin no more.

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