Dear Aaron Goldstein,
Last night, you wrote a post criticizing my characterization of Arizona SB 1062 as not anti-gay. With due respect, here is my response to your response.
1. I never said I was for this bill.
2. I simply wanted to expose others to the actual wording of this bill, which I fear very few people took the time to read. Here it is, for your own edification.
3. As for Mr. Yarbrough’s intentions, I will not defend him. But you say, “So let’s please stop pretending that this legislation has nothing to do with homosexuality.” I never said it had “nothing” to do with homosexuals. I said that, the actual text of the bill does not, in any way, attack gays specifically. Nor do I believe it should.
4. If you don’t believe me, I did some research for you and called up one of the law professors who wrote a letter to the Arizona governor, arguing the very same thing. Michael McConnell of Stanford Law told me:
This is certainly not a dangerous law. The law is already in place. The amendments are minor tweaks that resolve some ambiguities that have come up in a few states. Everyone has a right to raise their free exercise rights under state law. This has been in place for a long time.
He continued that this law is not a “right to discriminate,” but reinforcement of an already existent federal law declaring that people can raise “free exercise rights” as a defense in court and they may or may not win. All the Arizona law did was clarify that businesses and organizations have the same rights as individuals to cite free exercise rights and that it applies to civil lawsuits as well as government laws.
In other words, if a mother sues a medical clinic that refused to abort her baby because of its owners’ religious beliefs, that clinic can cite free exercise rights. This is nothing new. It is only clarification.
McConnell went on to say: “It should not be controversial that religious rights extend to business activity and should not be controversial that religious freedom applies in civil suits as well as direct governmental enforcement” and “very few of these cases have anything to do with sexual morality. The largest number, by far, involve prisoners.”
He went on to say such cases include situations where a Jewish soldier wasn’t allowed to wear a yarmulke in the Army, a couple was prohibited from having a Bible study in their home, and zoning laws kept churches from opening homeless shelters. He said, “As far as I know, no one has ever claimed they wanted to discriminate against a person because they are gay. The only debates have been based on people who don’t want to participate in or provide services for a gay marriage ceremony.”
5. This law isn’t about Muslim cab drivers, but even if it was, I’m not sure why a Muslim refusing you a cab ride “frightens” you. If he didn’t want to give me a cab ride because I’m a Christian, I would take no issue with it. I would only be angry if he sued me for similar treatment, because that would be hypocritical. However, because I am a Christian, I wouldn’t want to refuse him service because that wouldn’t be very Christ-like. So, I’m not scared.
6. Therefore, if our goal as journalists is to get the truth out, we of all people shouldn’t be drinking the Kool-Aid of the media. This is not an anti-gay bill. This is simply a restatement of federal law with some minor clarifications.