On a party line vote, Arizona Senate Republicans this afternoon passed legislation providing people of faith with a religious license to discriminate against gay people. The “get out of jail free card” was sponsored by the conservative Christian Center for Arizona Policy and GOP state senator Steve Yarborough.
Yarborough today defended SB 1062, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by claiming the legislation “is not about allowing discrimination,” but rather, “is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
Yarborough has been pushing variations of the pro-discrimination bill that gives special rights to people of faith since at least last year, and one so extreme that GOP Governor Jan Brewer refused to sign it.
SB 1062, as The New Civil Rights Movement has previously reported, could also be considered the religious version of a “Stand Your Ground” law, allowing anyone’s practice or observance of religion to be an automatic “out.” In other words, it would give Arizona residents and businesses the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, including because they are LGBT.
Arizona Senate Democrats issued a strongly-worded statement following the bill’s passage.
“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”
The bill is so broad that it could be used in defense of breaking any Arizona law.
John Becker at Bilerico looks at it this way:
“Because Jesus” could literally become a valid excuse for refusing service to queers in the Grand Canyon State.
But conservative Arizonans should also remember that as there is no state-sanctioned religion in the United States, SB 1062 provides a foothold into Arizona of both Sharia law, and, yes, even Satanism. Believe it or not, “the Devil made me do it” — if the House approves the measure — will become the law of the land in the Grand Canyon state.
SB 1062 works both ways, conservatives.
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