Friday, I wrote the following on Facebook with a link to the text of the Arizona bill known as SB 1062:
I was outraged the moment I heard about this bill. I wrote to the bill’s sponsors and excoriated them for their bigotry, homophobia, inhumanity, and asshattery. I also wrote my representatives and pleaded with them to vote against this bill. Today I wrote Gov. Brewer asking her to veto the bill, but before I did, I read the bill.
It is even more draconian than I’d been told. SB 1062 will make lawful any and all types of discrimination if the discriminator state s/he is doing so because it’s in his or her religious beliefs; it doesn’t even matter if that belief is “compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” So what I thought was a bill designed to legalize homophobic bigotry is in fact a bill to legalize all bigotry on the basis of religious freedom. The bill is an attempt to nullify all civil rights legislation ever passed, including federal laws, regardless who is being protected. For example, say my religious belief is that a woman’s province is the home. SB 1062 would allow me to refuse to hire women based on my religious beliefs. Or perhaps I’m a doctor or a nurse at a public medical facility. I can refuse to treat someone I believe is Jewish, or gay, or Catholic, or female, or yes, Christian because my religious beliefs are such that I cannot touch or help such a person.
Read the actually bill. If you’ve longed for the return of human sacrifices, AZ will be the state for you. Arizona laws already allow businesses to claim exemption from a state statute or regulation because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The recently passed bill would extend that to situations where a business owner faces a civil suit by someone denied service.
SB 1062 promotes discrimination under the cloak of religion.
Legislation of this kind has been attempted this year in Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Idaho. Each of those attempts failed after prominent members of the business community and outraged citizens condemned the measures. Arizona’s SB 1062 is the most recent example of the lunacy of those who are threatened by change.
It is this inability to adapt to change that will eventually doom the Republican Party. Polls show increasing support for same-sex marriage. Each time a Republican tries to limit health care options for women, denies support for those in need of food stamps or unemployment benefits, or condemns homosexuals, people take notice. More people believe women should have a choice about what to do with their bodies than desire to control women and their reproductive processes; more people see same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue than see it as an abomination; more people are put off by intolerance than embrace it. Just this past week, students formed a human chain around the University of Missouri gym to prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from disrupting a speech by football player Michael Sam who recently told the world he is gay. Now Missouri isn’t a state traditionally known for its progressive views. So if Republicans have lost the battle in the heartland, then surely they have lost the issue nationwide.
This afternoon Mr. Desert and I will gather at the AZ state capitol to protest the passage of SB 1062 and urge Gov. Brewer to veto the bill. I hope we will be joined by thousands of Arizona citizens who oppose this bill and who want to let the world know that while we live in a state where troglodytes run the legislature, they don’t represent the views of the majority.