Equality No Longer Welcome in Arizona

Published: Feb 23, 2014 17:25pm EST
By shaunmerritt, Entertainment/Sports Writer for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Feb 23, 2014 @ 06:36pm EST


Some people say that one person’s beliefs should not be held over another’s. Others say that religious freedom is the most important freedom we have. While we might disagree on how things should be in this country, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that no one should be discriminated against and treated like a second-class citizen.  However, lawmakers in Arizona disagree.

Arizona recently passed bill SB1062. What is SB1062?  It will allow any person to discriminate against anyone, especially gays, because of his or her religious beliefs. Why is this a problem? The bill describes a person as, “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization," and that this person can discriminated if “the person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief, the person's religious belief is sincerely held, and the state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs.” In essence, you can now refuse service to anyone in Arizona for any reason as long as your reason in based in faith.  Lets take a moment to pick our collective jaws off the floor.

Not since the Jim Crows laws of post Civil War America has legislation been this discriminating. If you don’t agree, consider this; the Jim Crow Laws made it legal for schools, businesses, transportation, restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains to be segregated between whites and blacks. Sound familiar? 

I am not trying to disparage anyone’s faith, but Jesus did not say anything in the Bible related to sexual relationships between two people of the same gender. Why are people of faith today so obsessed with it?  Even if he did, out of all the things the bible preaches, why try to enact laws encouraging discrimination? Why not start with laws that outlaw tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), outlaw the consumption of pork (Leviticus 11:7-8), getting certain haircuts (Leviticus 19:27), kids cursing their parents (Exodus 21:17), working on Sunday (Exodus 31:14-15), or the law banning divorce (Mark 10:11-12)?

My point being is that if we allow someone to use faith as excuse, we are going to go down a dangerous path that we will never be able to escape from. Since the United States does not have a state religion, per the 1st Amendment (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion), there would no possible way to establish what forms of discrimination should be allowed and what forms should not. So who is to say what is a legitimate refusal under this new law?

What if the business owner was catholic and refused service to an unwed mother? What if they were Islamic and refused to help any women in general? How about a Jewish business owner refusing to help anyone who remotely resembled a Muslim or vice versa? How about a white supremacist using faith as an excuse to refuse service to someone of color? Never mind a business owner, what if any of the pre-mentioned persons were police officers, doctors, fire fighters, or any type of public official? Their job’s actions cannot “substantially burden” the person's religious beliefs anymore right? Sure, they might be required to do their job, but will they compelled to go above and beyond anymore? It’s easy to count on someone else’s humanity, but when the law gives them an excuse not to, its puts things in perspective. Think this is just an isolated incident and we need not worry that other states will follow?

Like Arizona; Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah have all tried or are attempting to pass similar laws.

Eight U.S. states (Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) have some version of what is referred to as a “no promo homo” provision. These laws expressly forbid teachers from discussing gay and transgender issues in a positive manner.

According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; a few examples of these laws are:

In Alabama, in terms of sexual health education, “Classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.” Alabama State Code § 16-40A-2(c)(8).

In South Carolina, students are told that “the program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.” S.C. Stat. § 59-32-30(5).

Arizona mandates that “no district shall include in its course of study instruction which…(1) promotes a homosexual life-style…(2) portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style…(3) suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.” AZ Rev. Stat. § 15-716(c).

Progress is being made though. 18 states have legalized gay marriage with Massachusetts being the first in 2004. Four other states have either legalized civil unions or recognized gay marriages from outside the state. Though this is a good thing; it cannot be used to overlook what is going on in states like Arizona.  In order for this country to make progress, it cannot regress and Arizona bill SB1062 will cause us to do just that.






Comments (2)

  • Michael Owen   Feb 24, 2014 @ 05:30AM
    Wow!!! This is a GREAT article...upon which we could argue for hours....HOURS....seriously....but man....this is WELL thought out and very progressive...I'd just hold off on the Bible references, especially Leviticus because he pretty much says everything is wrong.
    Regardless, this may be your BEST post [email protected] -

  • Lance Rinker   Feb 23, 2014 @ 06:37PM
    This is the ultimate battle between states rights and the federal government being able to create and unilaterally enforce specific laws when it comes to equality. The people that enact these types of laws or promote this type of ignorance and bigotry are no friends of mine. -

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