Excuse Me, Are You Gay?
Arizona lawmakers pass a bill that will allow “faith” based refusal of service to gays and others. It sounds to me like a license to discriminate. Period.
Here it is in further detail….
(Reuters) – Arizona lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to customers when such work would violate their religious beliefs, in a move critics describe as a license to discriminate against gays and others.
Under the bill, a business owner would have a defense against a discrimination lawsuit, provided a decision to deny service was motivated by a “sincerely held” religious belief and that giving such service would have substantially burdened the exercise of their religious beliefs.
“The Arizona legislature sent a clear message today: In our state everyone is free to live and work according to their faith,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, which helped write the bill.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives 33-27 on Thursday, a day after it won similar approval in the state Senate. It will go to Republican Governor Jan Brewer, who has not indicated whether she will sign it.
The American Civil Liberties Union branded the legislation as “unnecessary and discriminatory,” saying it had nothing to do with God or faith.
“What today’s bill does is allow private individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate, sending a message that Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.
The Arizona law is seen by critics as an attack on the rights of gays and lesbians to equality under the law at a time when same-sex marriage activists have notched several court victories in recent months.
Some 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage in a trend that has gained momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.
Since mid-December, federal judges have ruled curbs on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia, although the decisions have been stayed pending appeal. The New Mexico Supreme Court has also legalized gay marriage.
But Arizona is among more than 30 states that still ban gay or lesbian couples from marrying, by constitutional amendment, statute or both.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, a Democrat who opposed the measure, called it “state-sanctioned discrimination” that clearly targets members of the gay community.
“We’re telling them, ‘We don’t like you,'” Campbell said, during a heated floor debate. “‘We don’t want you here. We’re not going to protect you, we don’t want your business, we don’t want your money and we don’t want your kind around here.'”
State Representative Eddie Farnsworth said the bill was wrongly being portrayed as discriminatory and that it only made “minor tweaks” to current state law.
“This is simply protecting religious freedom that is recognized and defended and supported in the First Amendment that the founders wanted – nothing else,” he said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Clarence Fernandez)
I fear a bill like this. It gives freedom to people to discriminate against gays (and others) with no consequence. Essentially, it is a license to discriminate. I can’t imagine visiting Arizona with my partner, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, and then being asked to leave because we are gay. “Pardon me, but you must leave my restaurant because you are gay, and my God condemns you.” First of all, I suggest these “faithful” individuals find another God, if theirs is such a condemning one. Last time I checked, God is love. God is peace. And frankly, God doesn’t care who I am sleeping with! My purpose on earth, according to my higher power, is to be loving. To be of service. And to be humble and gracious in the process….without ill will. My purpose is not to discriminate against my fellows!
Now, back to being asked to leave the restaurant…How is one to know if we are gay, unless we are holding hands perhaps or showing some public display of affection? Seriously, is it going to be a guess by the owner of these “intolerant” establishments? Hmmm. “you look gay, please leave.” The whole idea of this bill is ludicrous.
My mind is blown, thinking that in this day and age, we still have such discriminatory divisions among people for things like, race, religion, and sexual orientation. If only we weren’t all trying so hard to feel better than the rest…to feel more powerful. If only we could love unconditionally. Be at peace with who we are. The world could be a loving place.
I share your thoughts, fears and concerns. I remember when we first started hearing about doctors and pharmacies refusing to prescribe or fill prescriptions that they felt went against their own religious beliefs. I can’t recall how those lawsuits turned out, or if they’ve yet been settled (no time right now to research it, either), but this is just more of the same – people denying others based on their interpretation of the Bible and their resulting prejudices. I also bet that the first time this happens in Arizona there will be a lawsuit filed and either the Arizona Supreme Court or SCOTUS will eventually rule this as unconstitutional, as they should. Ridiculous BS, especially in this day and age. But proving once again we must be careful who we elect into office.