Sunday, April 20, 2014
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EDIT: Let’s not get too excited

Arizona Senator Jan Brewer announced Wednesday evening that she vetoed Arizona Senate Bill 1062. If passed, this bill would have given Arizona businesses the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers based on the religious beliefs of their owners.

Supporters of SB 1062 said it was created with the intent of protecting religious freedom, and was not intended to insinuate any type of discrimination to gay and lesbian people. But, if that instead sounds like a roundabout way to justify discriminating against someone based on his or her sexual orientation, it’s because it essentially was.

Since Brewer is no stranger to passing controversial bills, it was hard to trust she would make the right decision on this one as well. But after intense pressure from politicians and businesses that had their economic interests in mind, Brewer thankfully came to her senses and vetoed the bill.

In her announcement on Wednesday, she said that SB 1062 would cause Arizona more harm than good. She called the bill “broadly worded,” and said it could have serious “unintended consequences.”

And Brewer was right. Under SB 1062, if a gay couple walked into a store in Arizona where the owner didn’t agree with their sexual orientation, they would be legally justified to refuse them service. There was no way to look at this SB 1062 and not see the word “discrimination” written all over it.

Yes, it is great that Brewer vetoed this bill, and we can all celebrate and say how progressive America and Arizona have become in terms of equality; however, the fact that this bill was even considered by Brewer should be enough to churn our stomachs.

Bill supporters, such as Senator Steve Yarbrough, defended SB 1062 by saying it was, “about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out of their faith.” If this were the case, Mr. Yarbrough, then where in this bill would people of a contradicting faith be protected from such discrimination?

It would be nice to believe that Brewer vetoed this bill based on ethical reasons. But, when this bill was in question, many speculated she wouldn’t pass it because of the “economic harm” it would do to Arizona businesses. This leaves one to think how much ethics really played into her decision. After all, would she really want to jeopardize being able to host the 2015 Super Bowl in her state?

Before Brewer made her decision to veto the bill, supporters of SB 1062 cited the 2006 case in which a New Mexico photographer was sued for refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple. Since our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom, people argued that penalizing people for not wanting to serve gays and lesbians goes against that right.

Although many people may have supported SB 1062 just based on sheer homophobia, at the same time, there was some validity in their argument. If a priest does not want to marry two gay people, then he or she should not be forced to do so.

If people disagree with gay marriage, it is their loss for being intolerant, but it is also in their First Amendment right to feel that way. If we are actually a country founded on religious freedom, we have to respect opposing points of view as well. Their prejudices, however, should not add more to Arizona’s second-class citizen status (looking at you, Arpaio).

However, this argument goes so much further than priests and business owners. If SB 1062 was passed, how far would the idea of legally justified discrimination spread? What would happen if a child was denied access to a school because they came from a family of two gay parents?

Religion was created to give people a sense of order, not to be impressed upon others. Although Arizona SB 1062 was grounded on the idea of religious freedom, if this sort of freedom is used to hurt other people, then there is really no point in having it at all.

Since Brewer vetoed SB 1062, it will be easy for our country to move on and completely forget about it. But this should not be the case. If anything, the proposed legislation of SB 1062 should come as a rude shock to our country about how much progress we still have to make in terms of tolerance for gays and lesbians.

 

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