By Bruce Christian, Nov. 6, 2014.
Conservatives explore ways to protect ‘religious freedom’ from LGBT marriage
It didn’t take long for Arizona’s anti-marriage-equality conservatives to begin plotting on how to ignore a federal judge’s ruling to allow gay marriage.
Trot out old SB1062 again.
You remember the bill that caused so much consternation last spring? It was a bill that “protected” individuals with “sincerely held religious beliefs” from having to treat people equally. In essence it allowed any business owner who doesn’t like LGBT individuals to refuse service to them, if the business owners can cite their religious beliefs as the reason.
The public relations storm caused by the injudicious bill almost cost us the right to play host to Super Bowl XLIX. After intense pressure from civic leaders and owners of businesses that stand to profit from the NFL’s huge event, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the measure.
But haters never go away. Just look at all the racists who still allow their prejudices to be displayed against minorities, despite the Civil Rights Bill’s passage 50 years ago.
LGBT haters are like those racists. They never will give up, and they are exploring ways to get around the recent court ruling.
It started by advising court clerks they don’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they have religious or moral objections. And one such employee in the Maricopa County Clerk’s office has changed jobs, because of such a request.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-conceived decision that allows Hobby Lobby from having to comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, because of the owner’s religious beliefs, the anti-marriage-equality religious conservatives feel emboldened that they too can simply ignore laws they believe go against their faith.
In Arizona, some lawmakers want to push another bill that mirrors SB1062, which is simply another way to codify locally what the Supreme Court did in its partisan Hobby Lobby decision. Thus the slippery slope that Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned about in her scathing dissent has begun.
An Arizona Republic story identified State Representative Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix) and J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) as two members of the House who believe legislation may be in order to “protect” business from being “forced” to work with groups with whom they have a “moral objection.”
In nearly every restaurant, bar or local business I walk into, I can spot a sign that already reads: “We reserve the right to decline service to anyone.” So I’m not sure why Boyer and Mesnard need to take this kind of stance on potential legislation that clearly is not needed.
A baker already can tell any customer who comes in to order a wedding cake, that he can’t accept the order. And the baker never has to tell why. Maybe the baker simply doesn’t have time to meet the obligation? Maybe the baker believes the person ordering will not be able to pay? Maybe the baker just simply doesn’t like building wedding cakes?
Boyer told the Arizona Republic that when Brewer vetoed SB1062, she said she was unaware of any cases in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty was violated. He said things could be different now that gay marriage is legal in Arizona.
That’s just his excuse. Allowing gay marriage in Arizona does not mean that every church or business associated with weddings have to be involved in gay marriages. Another version of SB1062 is simply another way for the haters to attempt to provide cover for their bigotry.
As the American Civil Liberties Union stated: “While religious freedom is a fundamental American value and all persons are entitled to their religious beliefs, this right does not give anyone the right to harm or discriminate against other people.”
But another version of SB1062 would pave the way to allow harm and discrimination.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This nation needs to have a discussion on whether the rights of a religious person — who has many choices of faiths to follow — should take priority of the inalienable human rights that should be bestowed upon each individual at birth.
Bruce Christian is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]