Reading about the blatantly anti-gay bill passed by the Arizona legislature last week, I kept thinking about Florida’s noxious “stand your ground” law. Whereas the latter lets one kill with the simple assertion of fear, the former lets one deny services to anyone gay or lesbian by simply asserting his religious beliefs.
Under the Arizona law, any business in the state would be able to deny service to lesbian, gay, and, it’s safe to assume, bisexual and transgender people if doing so would violate the business owner’s strongly held religious beliefs. If such a business were sued for such bald-faced discrimination, the owner would simply cite the law as a defense and then would have to demonstrate that his actions were based on those beliefs. Just how does one prove how sincerely held his religious beliefs are? Do you mean to tell me that folks who hate activist judges want judges to determine the level of one’s religious sincerity? What’s the yardstick: church and Bible study attendance? Number of souls saved? Ridiculous.
Similar measures have gone nowhere in other states. With bipartisan opposition building against it, the same could happen to the Arizona measure. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting, refuses to say whether she will sign or veto the bill. But high-powered interests in the state worried about another boycott against the Copper State are making it clear they want her to torpedo the statute.
Both Sens. John McCain (R) and Jeff Flake (R) urged Brewer to veto the bill. According to CNN, Greater Phoenix Economic Council President Barry Broome told Brewer in a letter on Friday that the “legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come.” He also noted that four companies would relocate if the bill became law. According to The Post, Broome said the bill “is coming out of left field . . . from a bunch of demagogues who don’t care about Arizona’s future.”
Brewer dodged questions about the bill. “I need to explore it,” she said over the weekend. She has until Friday to make her move. To do anything other than veto the so-called religious freedom bill would put Brewer and her state on the wrong side of history. She has stared down conservatives in her state and vetoed wrongheaded legislation before. Brewer must stand her ground against them once more.
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