WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014 — Last week, SB 1062 passed the Arizona state senate on a 17-13, party-line vote. Republicans were in the majority.
On Wednesday, February 26, Governor Jan Brewer put the veto pen to use and struck down the bill, which would have given the citizens of Arizona the right to exercise their basic religious beliefs, and right that lies at the foundation of religious freedom.
SB 1062 would have given businesses, churches, any other person or group with deeply held religious beliefs the right to deny services to gays that would put them in the position of endorsing or promoting such things as same-sex marriage. It would not have permitted the denial of service to anyone simply on the basis of sexual orientation. The law would be a defense in against suits claiming discrimination.
Now the liberty of saying “no” to things that go contrary to religious belief is curtailed. There was a time when parents would tell their children to just say no when confronting something that they knew was wrong; they should stand up for their moral and religious beliefs. The right to do this is fundamental to freedom of religion — not just freedom of religious worship, but freedom of conscience. It is a right that has been ignored in the argument over SB 1062.
We can live with the defeat of this bill, but the reasons behind the defeat are a different matter. It was defeated because principles can be so easily subordinated to political expediency. The right of free exercise of conscience has been under attack by a president, a Justice Department and a press who are unsympathetic to people who want to live their religions, not just go to church on Sunday. The president and the rest are just barely tolerant of religious belief.
Much of the opposition to the Arizona bill came from firms like Apple, AT&T, Delta Airlines, Southwest airlines, Intel, Verizon, Marriott International, and the NFL, which said it would hold the Super Bowl elsewhere if Brewer signed the bill. Arizona is scheduled to host Super Bowl XLIX next year, and event expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. Delaware Governor Jack Markell, a Democrat, had already gone on record to say that if Brewer didn’t sign the veto, the Super Bowl should be moved.
The NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury also called for the veto.
Money and power talk, but is this the America that our founders imagined, a place where policy is bought and sold? Political expediency raised its ugly head when John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republican Senators, urged Brewer to veto the bill.
It’s always a good thing to read a bill before voting for it. A number of Democrats wish they’d learned what was in Obamacare by reading the bill, rather than by passing it. Three of the Republican Arizona state senators who voted for the bill urged the veto, saying that they did not realize that the bill was discriminatory. Did they actually read the bill, before or after voting for it?
SB 1062 wasn’t designed to harm or discriminate against the LBGT community. It was designed to give liberty to those who want to stand up for their own beliefs, not for some other beliefs. It was not designed so that a Christian baker wouldn’t have to sell a cake to a gay couple, but so that he wouldn’t have to, by that sale, in any way endorse a practice he found abhorrent. It was designed to allow people to teach their children their beliefs without having to explain to them why their business activities contradict those beliefs.
Larry J Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the university of Virginia, told Businessweek that business supports the social issues which are believed to be mainstream. “What is good for business is vetoing the bill.” What is good for business is profit and power. Apple and Verizon don’t support and oppose bills for the public good, but for their own profit. Supporters of Obamacare crowed that even the insurance companies supported the bill. Of course they did; it forces everyone to buy insurance.
Money talks, and greed is nothing new. Selling out those most precious liberties of personal choice has now become a matter of profits and votes. Americans are becoming as puppets on a string, moving and thinking only by the thoughts of others, and not ourselves.