Arizona Senate Bill 1062 was one of several similar bills in U.S. state legislatures allowing business owners to refuse service based on religious beliefs. The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and then, on February 26, 2014, unexpectedly vetoed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.
Remember? There was a baker in Arizona who refused, because of his religious belief that homosexuality is a sin, to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The lawsuit that arose out of that situation was one of the prime factors behind AZ SB-1062.
I posted an article on this blog last December “The Case of the Homophobic Baker” condemning the baker based on Federal anti-discrimination laws that make it illegal and legally actionable for a business to discriminate against members of protected classes. “What Is, IS!” It’s a law and we have to follow it or face legal penalties.
What I didn’t realize at the time (and still do not understand why) was that every state has a different list of protected classes. Isn’t this Federal legislation? Doesn’t Federal legislation automatically trump state legislation? Guess not! That teaches me to try and think logically about any aspect of the Federal Government. Just because LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered) individuals were added to the Federal ‘list’ of protected classes, it apparently does not mean that every state has to add them to their state anti-discrimination legislation. Arizona, at least at that point at the beginning of this year, does not have anti-discrimination legislation that covers LGBT individuals.
So, going back to the baker who I condemned as a law breaker; I was wrong! What IS in many states, IS NOT in Arizona.
I’m not saying that discrimination based on a person’s sexual identity is in any way right, or that this particular baker is not reprehensible but, at least in Arizona, it’s apparently perfectly legal and justified to be a religious bigot.
Governor Brewer faced a hail-storm of criticism because of her veto of SB-1062 and it primarily came from religious bigots who identify themselves (as most do) as Conservatives. Thanks however to Governor Brewer, as much as she may have wanted to as a Conservative politician, she could not bring herself to sign that legislation that would potentially allow uncontrolled religious discrimination. As part of her statement after the veto she said:
“Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”
Unfortunately Gov. Brewer made that good decision based on a common misconception. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was put in place not to protect citizens from unwarranted religious bigotry but to protect religions from government interference. All that, however, has nothing to do with anti-discrimination laws; they were put in place to protect citizens from racial, sexual, and religious bigotry. Either way, the “Homophobic Baker” comes out a loser (not to mentions being an incompetent businessman).
Read about the case: