Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Tea-Publican controlled Arizona House passed the Religious Bigotry today, and conformed the bill to the Senate version passed yesterday. The bill will now be transmitted to Governor Jan Brewer. Contact Governor Brewer and tell her to veto this state-sanctioned discrimination bill, as she did last year. Arizona does not need another blacke eye like SB 1070.
The Arizona Republic reports, Ariz. House passes controversial religion bill; goes to Gov. Brewer:
The legislation, written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.
Opponents have dubbed it the “right to discriminate” bill, and say it could prompt an economic backlash against the state, similar to what they say occurred when the state passed the controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 in 2010.
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The bill will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has five days to sign it into law, veto the bill or do nothing and allow it to become law.
Specifically, the legislation proposes to:
— Expand the state’s definition of the exercise of religion to include both the practice and observance of religion;
— Allow someone to assert a legal claim of free exercise of religion regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceedings;
— Expand those protected under the state’s free exercise of religion law to “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization."
— In order to assert a free exercise of religion defense, the individual, business or church must establish that their action is motivated by a religious belief, that the belief is sincerely held, and that the person’s beliefs are substantially burdened.
That's right, "corporations are people my friend." This radical bill purports to give fictional legal entities, e.g., an association, partnership, corporation, or other business organization, First Amendment religious liberty rights. Supporters of the bill cannot explain how a fictional legal entity which is a corporate body of directors and shareholders can have individual religious liberty rights -- whose religion? And who decides? The board of directors? The shareholders? Do they all have to share the same religious belief?
The Founding Fathers, who were opposed to corporations, are rolling over in their graves. The Bill of Rights are individual liberties for persons, not fictional legal entities. The courts have never recognized that corporations enjoy the full panoply of rights of individuals, but rather have selectively extended only some rights to fictional legal entities. Political speech under the First Amendment is one example.
"The bill votes were mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing. Three Republicans representatives, Ethan Orr, Kate Brophy-McGee and Heather Carter were also no votes."
When you do the right thing, I will give you credit where credit is due, E.Orr. Since you did not speak during the floor debate, I do not know your reasons or motivation for your vote. Please feel free to explain your vote in the comments. I bet Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban at CAP are interested in knowing as well.
Supporters views can be boiled down simply: "If my sincerely held religious belief is that I am intolerant of gays (or any other identifiable group under the ambiguous language of this bill), then it is my right to discriminate against gays. And your opposition to this bill is discriminatory and intolerant of my right to be discriminatory and intolerant of others." It is moral absolutism.
Rep. "Fast Freddie" Farnsworth, the House sponsor of the bill, kept repeating almost with glee that gays and lesbians are not a protected class under state or federal civil rights laws. This is true. This is why an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) amendment has been proposed to the Arizona Civil Rights Act every year since 1996, including this year. It will not get a hearing in committee because of guys like "Fast Eddie." (The U.S. Senate passed an ENDA bill lasy year, but the TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, refuses to bring ENDA up for a vote in Congress.)
Democrats had to explain to "Fast Eddie" that several municipalities including Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, do in fact have city ordinances which give protected class status to gays and lesbians. ""Fast Eddie's" response was to sneer that the state does not recognize protected class status.
"Fast Eddie" may not be aware of the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories, where a unanimous three-judge panel ruled that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause for a lawyer to “strike” (that is, remove) individuals from a jury panel on account of their sexual orientation.
The Ninth Circuit's heightened scrutiny standard for equal protection review is what caused the state of Nevada to drop its defense of its same-sex marriage ban currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Sevcik. v. Sandoval, saying that the state can no longer defend its law. The Ninth Circuit is poised to strike down Nevada's same-sex marriage ban shortly, and that decision will be binding in the Ninth Circuit, which includes Arizona.
So "Fast Eddie's" glee that gays and lesbians are not a protected class is going to be very short-lived indeed. Equal Protection under the 14th amendment means just that: equal. I heard a disturbing echo of the discredited "separate but equal" doctrine in arguments from supporters of this bill today. But as the U.S. Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education, "separate is inherently unequal." We are not going back to the dark days of state-sanctioned segregation.
Contact Governor Jan Brewer and tell her to veto this hateful bill for state-sactioned discrimination and segregation.
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
Fax Number: (602) 542-1381
In-State Toll Free 1-800-253-0883 (outside Maricopa County only)
E-mail form: Contact the Governor
HOW THE VOTED: