Yesterday Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a very controversial piece of legislation, Senate Bill 1062.
Thank God. Literally.
Aren’t familiar with the legislation? Visit Politico’s 10 things to know: Arizona’s SB 1062 to get the full scoop. Basically, the bill expanded the state’s current freedom of religious exercise to include protections for nongovernmental entities. Essentially, businesses could claim religious freedom as a means to refuse service to customers. Tal Kopan from Politico writes:
“It would have changed part of an existing Arizona state law regarding free exercise of religion to broaden protections to nongovernmental entities. The bill would have changed the definition of “person” from referring just to a religious institution to include “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization.” It also would have added language that says individuals may use burdens on their religious exercise as a defense in judicial actions even if the government is not a part of the case. This essentially means businesses have a right to claim a religious objection to providing services to customers.”
Notable Republicans including John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich came out in opposition of the bill, as well as powerful corporations. The NFL was thought to potentially reconsider having the Superbowl in Arizona in 2015 if the bill became law.
Thankfully the bill was vetoed with a powerful message:
“To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. 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 no one would ever want.”
“Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”
– Governor Jan Brewer
Sometimes when I read things about certain bills or legislation that reflect opinions like those incorporated into SB 1062 I can’t believe it’s the year 2014. It’s difficult to reconcile that religious freedom can be used as justification for discrimination. I’m taken down the thought trail of, “We might as well start hanging signs – ‘No gays welcome here.'”
Then journalists like Anderson Cooper remind me – and the world – there really isn’t a logical rationale to adopt legislation like SB 1062. I’m thankful that Arizona’s Governor thinks so too.