Michael Graham, from Massachusetts, expresses many of the same sentiments I have regarding Arizona's "Restore Religious Freedom" act, aka, SB1062 which Governor Brewer vetoed last night. What I object to is the labeling of this bill as an "anti-gay law," which it is not. Mr. Graham states the same thing. Most "news" agencies referred to SB1062 as "Arizona's anti-gay law."
Now, was SB1062 "anti-homosexual" at all? Read the full text of the ACTUAL BILL and decide:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:There is absolutely nothing in the bill about being anti-homosexual - or anti-anything! In fact, ultimately, this bill could have been used to protect the rights/liberties of homosexuals and other minorities. Why is a bill which is pro-religious freedom (a Constitutional right) automatically an anti-homosexual bill?Section 1. Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
41-1493. DefinitionsIn this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
1. "Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.
2. "Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
3. "Government" includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.
4. "Nonreligious assembly or institution" includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.
5. "Person" includes a religious assembly or institution ANY INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION OR OTHER BUSINESS ORGANIZATION.
6. "Political subdivision" includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.
7. "Religion‑neutral zoning standards":
(a) Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.
(b) Does not include:
(i) Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.
(ii) The ability to raise tax revenues.
8. "Suitable alternate property" means a financially feasible property considering the person's revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person's exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person's religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person's religious mission.
9. "Unreasonable burden" means that a person is prevented from using the person's property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person's religious mission.
Sec. 2. Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
41-1493.01. Free exercise of religion protected; definitionA. Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.
B. Except as provided in subsection C, government OF THIS SECTION, STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
C. Government STATE ACTION may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSON SEEKING THE ENFORCEMENT OF STATE ACTION demonstrates that application of the burden to the person PERSON'S EXERCISE OF RELIGION IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE is both:
1. In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
2. The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
D. A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING.E. A PERSON THAT ASSERTS A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION MUST ESTABLISH ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:1. THAT THE PERSON'S ACTION OR REFUSAL TO ACT IS MOTIVATED BY A RELIGIOUS BELIEF.2. THAT THE PERSON'S RELIGIOUS BELIEF IS SINCERELY HELD.3. THAT THE STATE ACTION SUBSTANTIALLY BURDENS THE EXERCISE OF THE PERSON'S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.F. THE PERSON ASSERTING A CLAIM OR DEFENSE UNDER SUBSECTION D OF THIS SECTION MAY OBTAIN INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF. A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.
E. G. In FOR THE PURPOSES OF this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.
H. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, "STATE ACTION" MEANS ANY ACTION, EXCEPT FOR THE REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED BY SECTION 41-1493.04, BY THE GOVERNMENT OR THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION OF ANY LAW, INCLUDING STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, REGULATIONS AND POLICIES, WHETHER STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, AND WHETHER THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION IS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSONS.http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/51leg/2r/bills/sb1062s.htm&Session_ID=112
What if a guy wearing a white hooded robe walks in to a print shop owned by an African-American and requests fliers for an upcoming KKK meeting be printed - does that business owner have the right to refuse to serve the KKK? Alright, that's an extreme example - but the rights and freedoms are identical to the rights and freedoms SB1062 was intended to protect. So what's the difference? If this same business owner happens to be very Christian and opposes homosexuality for religious reasons, could he be forced to print "wedding" announcements for a homosexual couple? Why? That's pretty much what happened in New Mexico to a photographer who refused to photograph the civil union ceremony of a homosexual couple. The couple turned around and sued the photographer - and won! How absurd!
All that being said, below is the transcript of Governor Brewer's announcement:
I am here to announce my decision on Senate Bill 1062.I have to agree with Governor Brewer's analysis and decision. Thank you, Governor Brewer.
As with every proposal that reaches my desk, I gave Senate Bill 1062 careful evaluation and deliberate consideration. I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or boos from the crowd.
I took the time necessary to make the RIGHT decision. I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.
I listened . . . and asked questions.
As Governor, I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in OUR state.
And I have the record to prove it.
My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona.
When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear…
Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic Comeback.
From CEOs -- to entrepreneurs -- to business surveys -- Arizona ranks as one the best states
to grow or start a business.
Additionally, our IMMEDIATE challenge is fixing a broken Child Protection system.
Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.
Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in
Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty
has been violated.
The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.
After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.
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.
Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed
search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans.