Arizona's "Religious Freedom" Bill in the Hands of Governor Brewer

Categories: I'm Only a Bill
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By Matthew Hendley


The Arizona House of Representatives passed the anti-LGBT "religious freedom" bill, which now heads to Governor Jan Brewer for her approval.

Despite House Democrats putting up a strong fight against the bill, just three of their colleagues on the other side of the aisle voted against the bill, which the rest of the Republican majority was able to pass with a 33-27 vote.

See also:
-Arizona's Anti-LGBT "Religious Freedom" Bill Trolled by a Pair of Democratic Senators

The bill would expand the rights of businesses to make exercise-of-religion claims in court. Senate Bill 1062 sponsor Republican Steve Yarbrough specifically has likened his legislation to the case in New Mexico, in which a wedding photographer refused to photograph a lesbian couple's wedding. Yarbrough's bill would give the photographer a defense of exercising a "sincerely held religious belief," if that were an Arizona case.

Many of the arguments against the bill were compelling.

ACTV
Representative Demion Clinco.
Democratic Representative Demion Clinco, who was just sworn in as a new legislator a couple weeks ago to fill a vacancy, spoke out against this bill, as the only openly gay member of the House. He said because of how he's been treated, including being assaulted in high school, he's spent most of his life downplaying that he's gay, and this bill certainly wouldn't help reverse that.

"I don't think this is what the founders intended [as religious freedoms], and to hide it behind religious freedom is an embarrassment to religions," Clinco said.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, the only openly atheist member of the Legislature, said he could foresee the possibility of atheists facing discrimination based on others exercising their alleged religious freedoms.

"This is not real freedom," Mendez said. "It is an insult to our founders and our state."

One of the bill's sponsor in the House, Republican Representative Eddie Farnsworth, defended the bill from criticism. He insisted the Democrats and the media were making this bill out to be something it's not.

Yet, Farnsworth's colleagues continued to bring up the textbook example of the reasoning behind the bill: the New Mexico photographer case. New Mexico law is a bit different in that it has a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating against gay people. Although several cities, including Phoenix, have municipal ordinances that create this protection, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell suggested this law deliberately undermines those city ordinances.

"This is state-sanctioned discrimination, there's no doubt about it," Campbell said. "This bill will result in discrimination toward the LGBT community, there is no doubt about it in my mind -- none."

ACTV
Representative Ruben Gallego.
Democrat after Democrat blasted the law as discriminatory, and Representative Ruben Gallego, in protest of the bill, held up a sign he imagines might be seen at Arizona businesses if this bill passed, saying, "No gays allowed."

Meanwhile, Gallego and fellow Democratic Representative Mark Cardenas combined to offer 17 amendments to the bill -- much like their Senate colleagues had done the day before -- to make it clear that people can't discriminate against others in certain situations. All of the amendments failed.

Still, most on the Republican side maintained that the legislation -- pushed by the Christian Right group Center for Arizona Policy -- is about protecting a person's religious rights.

"We are trying to protect people's religious freedoms," Republican Representative Steve Montenegro said. "We want to prevent the government from forcing a person who is trying to start a business to sell out their religion for money."

Campbell noted that this legislation has been proposed in several other states, and Arizona remains the only state where it looks like the legislation could pass. He attributed it to legislators in other states realizing that the legislation "really does nothing but hurt people."

"In the future, people are going to look back on this bill, and they're going to laugh," Campbell said. "They're going to be disgusted."

Joining the Democrats in voting against the bill were Republican Representatives Ethan Orr, Kate Brophy McGee, and Heather Carter. The bill now heads to Governor Brewer. The Arizona Republic has already called on Brewer to veto the bill.

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210 comments
dfarhie
dfarhie

I have long admired the State of  Arizona for the unique and spectacular landscapes and geological formations which cover the state.  I am glad that rocks have no bigotry, no homophobic feelings, no race hatred or religious intolerance.  Rocks are mute, beautiful and wholly natural, unlike the minds of the legislators in Arizona who voted for this obscene bill and it's blatant discriminatory over and undertones.  Shame on the Republicans and religious extremists who insist on dragging Arizona back to the 1940's when it was legal to have separate lunch counters, water fountains and the backs of buses.  Shame on the Governor if she signs this bill into law, or lets it languish on her desk unsigned.  Shame on the people of Arizona who sat idly by and let this bill be passed in the first place.  You might as well start sewing swastika on all state flags, have your children learn the Horst Wessel song, and polish your jack boots and leather greatcoats.  Wake up Arizona, look at what your state is becoming...

pjmmorgan
pjmmorgan

I have contacted the Governor of California, Lt. Governor, SF Mayor, and State Senator Mark Leno, and have asked all of them to invite the NFL to move the February 2015 Super Bowl to California.  Clearly, the bigoted legislation of Arizona is cause to move the Super Bowl to a state that welcomes everyone.  The longer Brewer waffles in not vetoing the legislation the clearer her bigoted intent.  It is clear Arizona is not welcoming and has forfeited its right to host any major event.


Roger Goodell must note that Forbes magazine has already called for the Super Bowl to be moved.  The NY Daily News has likened Arizona to the Stasi.  This is clearly a time to stand against bigotry.

Jukes
Jukes

I hope she does sign it.  The NFL will pull the Super Bowl and all hell will break loose. 

Chris Paternoster
Chris Paternoster

The Bill will never pass. Even if she does sign it, it will be overturned in Federal Court. It's just sad that the people who represent me in the state government think that a bill like this is ok.

AnotherMesaVoter
AnotherMesaVoter

It feels like there is something deeper going on here.  Why would so many republicans vote for a bill that has and will hurt Arizona.  It's hard to believe that so many voted for it without any coercion. I would like to see all all emails and correspondence from Center for Arizona Policy, Cathy Herod.  

I believe an investigation needs to take place.  Does anyone know how to get that started - who to contact?

Jose Vásquez
Jose Vásquez

They're all old buZards who need to go home Bring in some new fresh open minded people which have the peoples best interest in hand Not this Biggot bullshit ~ Dayum .... I live Arizona but it's embarrassing

David Edwards
David Edwards

It is pathetic that a legislature is so biased that it would allow bigotry towards people to buy and pay for services. We might as well put up Gay only restrooms and make them ride on the back of the bus. Is Arizona stuck in the 1950s. Who are the people who elected these misguided and dangerous leaders? Shame on them for wearing their white hats and sheets in public.

Robin Finken
Robin Finken

Religion has no place in politics period.

Britton Wingfield
Britton Wingfield

She vetoed a similar bill once already. Flip a coin on this one.

Aaron Abbott
Aaron Abbott

Remember the negative economic impact of Ev Mecham and sb1070? Anyone?

Robin Scott Andress
Robin Scott Andress

The folk who support the Bill in the legislature are either avowed bigots or timid mice afraid of the Tea Party. Governor Brewer had a chance to be bold. Blew and said she needed time to decide.

Steve Palermo
Steve Palermo

I honestly dont know. I hope she does. Not only is it a bad bill that is needlessly punitive in nature, but it could be an economic disaster for our State.

Aaron Ott
Aaron Ott

the best part about these bills are when they get overturned by the Supreme Court and then there are grounds for a lawsuit that open the door for anti-discrimination legislation. ie Utah's gay marriage precedent.

pjmmorgan
pjmmorgan

If Brewer signs the law, I am not sure if Arizona has any idea of the economic and political consequences.  What large company wants to be associated with outright discrimination -- Sochi was difficult enough for U.S. companies, but a U.S. state actively promoting bigotry would force (i believe) many companies to relocate.  No tech in Arizona. JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, B of A, etc., etc. have all worked very hard to be inclusive and their customers appreciate that greatly.  Would these banks be able to continue to employ large numbers in Arizona and risk a backlash after all of their respected efforts?  I do not think so.  


The Super Bowl will be in Arizona next - does the NFL want to get dragged into even more issues of bigotry, controversy and boycott?  Boycott Arizona, its cotton producers, etc. etc. will become a new rallying cry of a generation (or three or four).

Patricia Baker
Patricia Baker

I hope she signs. People who own a business have a right to operate within their religious convictions. Should they be forced to open on Sunday if that is the only day one group is able to shop? Should they have to take money they know was gotten as a result of dealing drugs? Should a pawn shop have to give a loan if they know it will be used by an alcoholic to buy more booze? We should all be free to act within our own morals. If a state can force a business to violate its religious principles then a business can force an employee to violate theirs. Business should have the right to refuse service to anyone period and we the people have the right to boycott that business if they do something we don't like. That is how the system should work.

Joe Berman
Joe Berman

This is what the Nazis wrote on the gates of all the camps, "work will set you free". They told all the Jews, gays, cripples, latinos, and blacks that they were being taken somewhere with great hope and endless possibilities. Once into the gates, it was gas-town for those people. Hate propaganda cloaked in a veil of freedom and hope.

Ian Wolf Russell
Ian Wolf Russell

You all seem to miss the point. It's about the government not forcing a business to do something they believe is wrong on any level. Should a business owner be made by the government to do something against third will? That's not freedom that's communism. I highly doubt this will you do anything more than our first amendments give us rights to do already. This just says you cant sue a business if they don't want to serve you.

Jerry Young
Jerry Young

Have you noticed how public servants have become our government officials? Are you seeing that political issues of yesterday has become our reality today? Have you noticed that the Constitution created to serve the People has morphed into a government machine that we now serve? Think civic responsibility! If you're not already proactive, the time is now to become reactive. How? Not with threats of taking up arms! After posting your opinion on Facebook, take a moment to also email your elected representatives on issues you oppose or support. We may not agree, but together we will be heard!

Annie Eldon
Annie Eldon

There will be hell to pay if she doesn't veto it.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

The Kansas version of this pile of crap also said that a cop could ignore crimes if a gay was involved, as they didn't "religiously" support gays, so it was less important than a crime against a dog.....

ConcernedaboutAZ
ConcernedaboutAZ

Someone needs to start a "Quit blaming your hate on God" campaign and make that a standard for bills.

66rock
66rock topcommenter

Thumbs up to GOP Orr, McGee,Carter.  Who ever's district they are from should be very proud of their leaders right now for standing up for all citizens. 

Wm Cooley
Wm Cooley

Don't do it Jan. It's religious bigotry and we can kiss the Super Bowl goodbye!

rianheitzmann
rianheitzmann

@ConcernedCitizenAZ What about those that label themselves as Gay Christians?  Your still discriminating against a group (although Christian) that just happen to be gay.  The bible or any other book of religion is open for interpretation.  Why is one groups views or religious bias or belief more imperative than anyone else?  This is exactly why we have something in the Constitution called Separation of Church and State which is on a Federal level not a State level.  Federal over rides state.  You want lawsuits to inadate Arizona then bring it on.  There are thousands of Gays and Lesbians in the state of Arizona that have money and would love to slam the state with legal battles up to the Supreme Court if necessary.  The state of Arizona is hurting financially  and with those legal battles and the many business that will close shop and not do business with Arizona you are starting a war you will NOT win! 

gtnoriega554
gtnoriega554

@Jukes Sad to say, the only thing the Arizona legislature would respond to is losing the Super-Bowl again. 

ConcernedforArizona
ConcernedforArizona

@lisalisanoneya Christ gave his life so that we would understand the immensity of God's love for all of us.  He allowed Himself to be tortured and murdered so that we would understand that.  Please refrain from judging others thinking you know best.  This bill is about hate and nothing else.  Hate is hate and not an expression of religious freedom as someone else suggested.  I suggest to you that morality is the anti-Christ and those that adhere to it are legion.  There is no greater abomination than to accuse God of hate after what Christ went through for us.  If a man says he loves another man, or a woman another woman, who are you to judge that as wrong.  Remove the plank from your own eye because I'm sure there is much there to remove.  The Gov has shown her true stripes, so don't expect that she will be viewed in a good light.  "Reap what you sow" has garnered her justifiable criticism.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@lisalisanoneya  Whose god?


Thor? Mithra? Budda? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?


Keep you god to yourself, he offends my god when he tells me how to live MY life

gtnoriega554
gtnoriega554

It's sad to know that's how our esteemed politicians spend their time, ie, trying to come up with ways to make people feel miserable.

Jukes
Jukes

@AnotherMesaVoter Yes, in the eight years I've lived here I've seen more that I would call rabid libertarianism (of the "my freedoms trump your rights" category than what I think of as extreme fundamentalist conservatism).  But this bill, and many of legislature's stands related to abortion are making me rethink that.  Anyone who calls themselves a libertarian shouldn't be legislating people's sex lives or health care. If you're a Republican because you don't want to pay taxes, fine.  But being a Republican because you want to insert yourself in the most personal aspects of people's lives makes no sense to me.  Seriously, all you people who love Sarah Palin, for one example.  How can you be A-OK with her out-of-wedlock grandchildren but horrified when your neighbor wants to marry the same-sex partner he's made a life with for 25 years? 

Jukes
Jukes

Who are they?  My guess would be the elderly, fundamentalist Christian, and Mormon voters.  I think there's also an argument to be made for the homosexual-obsessed politicos being self-loathing closet cases.  Why else would people like Marcus Bachmann, Rick Santorum, everyone in Focus on the Family, and more than one Arizona sheriff spend so much time thinking about what other people do in bed?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Should they be forced to serve Jews, Christians or Negroes? 

Jukes
Jukes

It's also sad when Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and 41 other states (and DC) are spending more per child on public education than Arizona is. Maybe we get our dumb voters by making them. 

Reggievv
Reggievv

That's right. Put in the two water fountains. Just make sure you put a sign on the door, so everyone knows you are Jim Crow. Then the boycott can start right there.

pjmmorgan
pjmmorgan

Can a business discriminate based on race, gender, national origin? 


No, because federal civil rights laws from the 1960s prohibit such discrimination -- so, whether you want to serve women in your restaurant is not an issue b/c the law requires it -- we have laws to protect people b/c that is what civilized societies do.  


I will reserve my opinions about you all in Arizona (despite the 1st amendment) b/c in a civilized society even though I may want to say certain things such speech might be more harmful than helpful.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

have you noticed jerry, that each atom in your fingernail could be a whole universe itself?  (That was a Theory in "Animal House", BTW)

Reggievv
Reggievv

There will be a huge boycott effort and the State will lose tons of business. Brewer should veto it just on selfish business motive.

johnlancaster85035
johnlancaster85035

@ConcernedforArizona @lisalisanoneya  Who are you?....You act as if you are the POPE, or MOTHER TERESA herself. As if you speak for the good of all mankind.And you can do no wrong.It clearly states in the Bible, a HOLY UNION is defined between a man and a women.You have no right to take one side over the other.Maybe we should think on meeting each other half way.Or some sort of middle ground.An in- perfect solution for an in- perfect world.But never try to define what the the Bible says.Unless your with the church,but based on what i heard.I guess your not.

johnlancaster85035
johnlancaster85035

@Flyer9753 @lisalisanoneya   Who knows? Maybe God can be Jesus.But who are you, to question, who God is.We never question who God is.Maybe you should read the Bible.If you don't keep God first place in your heart, then who do you keep? Budda,Thor, The Flying Spaghetti Monster? 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Reggievv  "Just make sure you put a sign on the door, so everyone knows you are Jim Crow"


The "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone" sign has always been code for "this business owned/operated by a lowlife inbred bigoted racist piece of shit"



Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@johnlancaster85035 @Flyer9753 @lisalisanoneya  


So don't question god, read the bible..... the bible written by men.... yeah that make so much sense, elevating men who are no different from you to god status.... believe the bible, a book I can prove to be factually wrong in more ways than I can count.


But you are right, who does know, not me... and certainly not you, so why are you telling me to read the bible?? A Book I have read, multiple times.. I bet I know it better than you.


Live your life, however you want to live YOUR life so long as it does not affect me but stop telling me how to live my life according to your god, who you have no more proof of existence than I do for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Thor.


That's where you and lisa go wrong. Thinking you have any business telling anyone else how to live their life and putting your god above theirs, whatever theirs may be.


The only time you have any business telling anyone, or making laws forcing anyone to live is when they attempt to interfere or affect your life directly... 


kinda like how christians are wanting to refuse marriage equality even though it has no direct affect on them.

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