Arizona bill went too far
Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer slapped down the right wing of her own party, vetoing a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays.
The conservative governor said she could not sign a bill that was not only unneeded but would damage the state’s improving business environment and divide its citizens.
Senate Bill 1062 had set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.
In a reference to the gay marriage debate that has expanded across the nation, Brewer reached out to the religious right with sympathy but said 1062 was not the solution.
“Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” she said. “However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and nobody could ever want.”
The bill was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays or others who offend their beliefs. But opponents called it an open attack on gays that invited discrimination.
No matter your beliefs or personal opinions regarding gay men and women, or topics such as gay marriage, Brewer’s veto was a win for us all. You might think a business does have the right to refuse serving someone who is gay. But if the law would have passed, consider this: Who would be next? Many people see divorce as a sin. Could a business ban any person who has ever been divorced? Could a business refuse service to someone who gambles, if gambling is considered a sin within the owner’s religion? Could they refuse someone who served time in jail because committing a crime is a sin? You might think those examples are frivolous, but imagine how many business owners would keep certain individuals or groups out of their stores if it was legally possible.
And how would a business know who is gay or straight? How would they know who has been divorced? Would a customer have to answer a number of questions before being cleared to step over the threshold?
Hands down, the Arizona bill was a ridiculous idea and it is surprising that such a bill even made it to the governor’s desk.
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