Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) last week performed a critically important task for her state, her party, the conservative movement and the country. In vetoing a measure designed to give a business owner a religious liberty defense if he or she wished to discriminate against gays, she signaled that bias dressed up in religious garb is not to be tolerated. Unlike the Obamacare mandate which requires devout Catholics, for example, to provide insurance covering abortion-inducing drugs and thereby participate in an act that violates their conscience, there is no religious tenet that prohibits selling clothes to a gay person or any other act of commerce.
A religious fundamentalist convinced that races should not mix cannot refuse service in a restaurant to an African American; likewise religious belief, no matter how fervent, does not override the societal interest in preventing discrimination against gays or any other category of people. We’re not talking about marriage here. This is about preventing “no gays allowed” hotels, stores, restaurants, etc.
Some social conservatives vow to battle on, but if they can’t get their way on an issue like this in a red state with a GOP governor, it is unlikely they will succeed anywhere. Brewer recognized that her state would suffer grievous economic and political harm if she indulged those who want excuses to ostracize gays.
For doing the right thing despite pressure from noisy opponents of egalitarianism, she did herself and her state proud. Well done, Gov. Brewer.