In yet another display of GOP intolerance and bigotry, the Arizona State Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that will allow a business to refuse service to a person who they believe to be gay just as long as the refusal to serve is based on “strongly held religious beliefs.”
The bill passed on a 17-13 party line vote with a Republican majority, the state House is to debate the bill today.
Hailed by Republicans as a victory for the First Amendment, the bill has been criticized as legalized discrimination by state Democrats who argue that it tramples on the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals.
“The bill opens the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians,” said Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix).
Senator Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, says that is a distortion of what his bill does.
“This bill is not about discrimination. It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith,” he said.
This is of course another case of projection, claiming that it is the Christian who is being persecuted and discriminated against if he is not allowed to persecute and discriminate against others.
Yarbrough was apparently inspired to introduce his bill after a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court against a photographer who refused to photograph a wedding for a gay couple. His bill would prevent a similar ruling in Arizona.
Gallardo points out that you do not protect the religious freedom of one person by attacking the rights of another.
“We all have the right to our religious beliefs,” he said.
“But I do not agree that we have the right to discriminate because of our religious beliefs. I do not believe we have to throw our religious beliefs to others that don’t share our same beliefs.”
Senator Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma, sees it as more than a matter of discrimination. She thinks that the law would be bad for the state in general, inspiring boycotts and protest in the same vein as those experienced when former governor Evan Meacham (R) declared that Martin Luther King Jr. Day would no longer be honored in Arizona in the 1980s. She also points to the protests inspired by the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act of 2010 which was aimed at undocumented immigrants but gave broad authority to the police to question the legitimacy of any person who appeared to be of Hispanic descent.
Yarbrough says that his critics do not understand why the Founders wrote the First Amendment in the first place.
[box type=”shadow”]”One’s faith, at least in America, extended to the workplace, to the public square and to all aspects of our lives,” he said, insisting that his law is “aimed at preventing the rising attempts at discriminating against folks because they are sincere and serious about the free exercise of their religious faith.”[/box]
There’s that ‘if I can’t discriminate then I am being discriminated against’ argument again.
When Senator Robert Meza, D-Phoenix argued that this law would allow a hotel owner who considers Mormonism to be a cult to refuse to rent a room to a Mormon family, Yarbrough did not give a direct response, saying only that would be based on whether the government had a “compelling interest” in prohibiting this type of discrimination.
When Gallardo attempted to include an amendment which would have required a business to publicly announce its intention to invoke the law to discriminate in order to alert the public to which businesses were practicing discrimination Yarbrough successfully enlisted his fellow Republicans to reject the amendment. In other words he wants those who he would allow to discriminate to do so in secret in order to avoid any negative impact on their bottom line.
h/t: Arizona Daily Star