By Brenda Robinson
Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062. We’re glad she did. Otherwise, Arizona and the nation would have some difficult days ahead, including the governor. Brewer, and rightfully so, looked at the political and social effects of the bill, but also the discriminatory nature. She concluded, the bill would divide Arizona citizens. The Arizona legislature passed the bill two weeks ago with a 33–27 vote.
What is going on? Basically, the bill would have permitted a restaurant owner to refuse service to same sex couples, or a Christian banquet hall owner from renting out his or her establishment for a Jewish bar mitzvah. The bill was in response to an incident in New Mexico, whereby a photographer, who was sued, refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.
Both liberals and conservatives are compassionate about the issue. Liberals contended the very fact that the bill passed is an embarrassment to Arizona. Further, liberals and even some conservatives believe the bill is discriminatory. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and former presidential contender Mitt Romney called upon Brewer to veto the bill. Three Republican State Senators who voted for the bill, later said they were mistaken to cast an affirmative vote. A similar bill of this nature was passed by the legislature last year, only to be vetoed by Brewer.
Seemingly, reasonable thinking people, regardless of political and religious affiliations, viewed a veto as absolutely imperative. The National Football League, the Arizona Superbowl Host Committee, the Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Apple Incorporated, American Airlines, and the Hispanic National Bar Association urged Brewer to veto the bill.
The bill sponsors said their intent was to grant added protection from lawsuits for persons and/or establishments’ freedom of religion rights. Proponents of the bill believe providing services or goods to a gay person must not be mandatory, if said recipient’s sexual orientation is same sex. This same argument, with a different flavor, was used to discriminate against black people during slavery and the Jim Crow era. Let’s compare.
Some racist and political conservatives contended slavery was ordained by God, based upon the biblical command that “slaves should obey their masters” and “divine blessings were bestowed upon slaveholders.” These same misinformed Americans believed blacks with whites would overthrow God’s established order. This group further contended equal rights for blacks would infringe upon the rights of whites. The belief was whites could deny goods and services to blacks because they were ‘heathens’ and out of God’s grace. And, a current racist sentiment against gay people is “white people’s religious freedom is violated when they are forced to serve and/or provide services to gay people.
Brewer got it right. Politically, she would have taken a beaten if she had approved the bill. Her fellow politicians clearly said Republicans cannot afford the negative fall out of further disenfranchising the pro gay movement. Socially, the majority of Americans support the gay rights movement and most major establishments want no affiliation with discriminatory practices. Finally, Americans must accept the reality of the Constitution. There really is a separation of church/state policy. If a particular religion chooses not to marry a gay couple or accept members based upon their sexuality, the Constitution so permits. However, discrimination within a business or public establishment was outlawed in 1964, though already unlawful, per the founding fathers.
Hopefully, we are moving toward the day when the greater majority of Americans will stop believing that granting minorities (whether based on race, sexual orientation, age, sex, or whatever) freedom leads to loss of freedom for others.