The full Arizona House just passed a religious freedom license to discriminate bill that will allow anyone, for any reason, refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim it violates their religious beliefs. The Arizona Senate passed their version of the bill, SB 1062, just yesterday.
The legislation is now headed to Republican Governor Jan Brewer for her signature or veto.
After several hours of debate, the Republican-led Arizona House in an unrecorded voice vote sent HB 2153, an Act Relating To The Free Exercise Of Religion to the full House for a vote. That vote happened only minutes later. The final vote was 33-27.
The legislation is sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, and in the Senate by GOP state senator Steve Yarborough, along with the conservative Christian Center for Arizona Policy.
SB 1062/HB 2153 provides a foothold into Arizona of both Sharia law, and, yes, even Satanism. Believe it or not, “the Devil made me do it,” should Gov. Brewer sign it, will become the law of the land in the Grand Canyon state.
U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema issued a statement urging Gov. Brewer to veto the bill.
— Kyrsten Sinema (@RepSinema) February 20, 2014
Speaking eloquently in opposition to the legislation, Rep. Ruben Gallego (image, top) reminded his colleagues that Arizona is trying to attract the Super Bowl, and companies like Apple and Google. “God forbid someone should come to the Super Bowl and come to a restaurant that is not going to allow them in,” he warned. “We’re saying it’s open season on gays, it’s OK to put this sign up,” he said, holding a large “No Gays Allowed” sign.
Rep. Gallego also noted that gay service members would “have more rights by staying on that base” than by stepping foot on Arizona soil. “In expanding religious freedom we are expanding state-sanctioned discrimination.”
Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic Minority Leader, delivered a very passionate speech, telling his fellow House members, “this is state sanctioned discrimination.”
“If you are gay, don’t come to Arizona. That’s what we’re saying to the nation,” Rep. Campbell said. “This is a direct attack on a certain group of people — the LGBT community,” he noted.
Later, he noted, “there’s only one type of equality, and that’s equal.”
Rep. Mark Cardenas was passionate throughout the debate, and challenged many of those who were in favor of the legislation. He talked about the economic impact the legislation will have, and framed the debate as Arizona suffered when it refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
She also reminded her colleagues that when the Pilgrims came to America, they subjugated and slaughtered millions of native Americans in the name of their religion.
Rep. Demion Clinco, who is Arizona’s only gay lawmaker, said, “I don’t think we deserve a bill like this anywhere in this country.” Saying he was appalled by the legislation, he added it is discrimination hiding behind religious freedom.
“It’s hurtful to me personally, it’s hurtful to the LGBT community… We’re responding to a problem in another state.”
But those opposed, like Rep. John Kavanagh, falsely claimed that “people are using the cloak of discrimination to persecute religious people.”
“I’m sick and tired of the majority being trampled on by the minority,” Rep. Steve Smith said. “I won’t stand for it. We’re the bad people. Why? Because I dare to wear my religion on my sleeve?”
The legislation was drafted in direct response to Elaine Photography v. Vanessa Willock, in which the New Mexico Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled that a photographer violated that state’s Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding.
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