Arizona’s SB 1062 Is Not Religious Freedom, It’s State-Sanctioned Discrimination

Here they go again.

Religious freedom is no more an absolute right as is freedom of speech, or the right to bear arms. That is to say, no rights are pure. Your rights end at the point where they infringe upon my rights, and of course the inverse is also true. And nowhere in America should we pass a law that allows one citizen to discriminate against another citizen with the explicit protection of state or federal law. And that’s where Arizona residents find themselves in 2014, as their elected representatives passed SB 1062, which gives any Arizona resident the right to to use their business and their “religious beliefs” at a means to discriminate against others.

Freedom or oppression? That’s the question for Arizona’s SB1062 – CNN.com — While proponents of gay rights dub the bill oppressive, those in favor of the bill becoming law say it represents freedom.

Freedom vs. oppression: That’s the polar contrast Gov. Jan Brewer must consider as she sits down to “listen to both sides” this week ahead of her decision whether to sign or veto the bill that has divided her state and drawn national and commercial interests into the fray.

Brewer has until Saturday to make her call, and her fellow Republicans in the state Legislature have suggested that a veto is likely.

In short, SB1062 would amend the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers so long as proprietors were acting solely on their religious beliefs.

The bill’s advocates insist that those claiming SB1062 amounts to bigotry and discrimination have hijacked and misrepresented its aims.

Arizona already exempts religious institutions from anti-discrimination laws, which is ridiculous on its own, but SB 1062 would extend this “right” to all businesses. I guess you could say Arizona is an equal opportunity state for those who hate. After all, if Governor Jan Brewer chooses not to veto SB 1062, I guess it’s entirely possible for a gay person to discriminate against a straight person on religious grounds, right? And a black-owned business could refuse service to whites on religious grounds, right? In reality we know the opposite would be much more likely, but in any case it’s wrong, and it should not be codified into state law. What’s the litmus test here? What is or isn’t a religious belief? Just what kind of freedom are we talking about here? Well I’ll tell you, it’s the freedom to invoke religion as a means to protect, even foster, deep-seated fear and hatred.

I’ve said it before, and unfortunately I know I’ll say it again — your religious rights do not trump other human rights. In a democracy and in a civil society, religious beliefs do not give anyone license to discriminate. No, not even you.

Az state capitol building

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