Natalie deMacedo makes the argument that the recently passed Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would permit any person to refuse service to another on religious grounds, isn’t anti-gay because the term homosexual is not mentioned in the bill. To be precise, the bill defines a person as “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity”.
The problem with this argument, however, is that State Senator Steve Yarbrough, the principal sponsor of the bill, indicated he introduced the bill because of a decision last year by the New Mexico Supreme Court which allowed a same sex couple to sue a photographer for refusing to take pictures of their wedding. Would Yarbrough have bothered introducing such legislation if the court’s decision didn’t involve a same sex couple? So let’s please stop pretending that this legislation has nothing to do with homosexuality.
Nevertheless, if this bill becomes law in Arizona, its implications go well beyond situations involving gay couples and wedding photographers. Natalie writes:
It states that anyone acting out of sincere religious belief has the right to deny or allow certain persons into their group or establishment. In other words, a gay bar is free to block heterosexual men or women from entering (if they can cite sincere religious beliefs) and a mosque doesn’t have to permit Christians on their premises. The bill protects the rights of all religions equally before the law.
This is exactly what I am afraid of.
As I have argued previously, if one is prepared to allow a Christian baker or a Christian photographer to invoke a religious conscience in refusing to a bake a cake or take a picture for a same sex wedding then we must be prepared to allow Muslim cab drivers to invoke religious conscience when refusing to transport blind people with guide dogs or people carrying a bottle of alcohol. In the comments section of my post, Ben Brophy argued apples and oranges. But if we read Natalie’s defense of Arizona SB 1062 to its logical conclusion; it’s apples and apples. If Muslims can forbid Christians from entering a mosque then why can’t they prevent Christians from entering a cab? How do you like them apples?
Arizona SB 1062 is foolish and mischievous and would lead only to the further Balkanization of religion in America and of society at large. Governor Jan Brewer would be wise to put an end to this foolishness, mischief making and destructive divisiveness by vetoing this bill.