Arizona’s state legislature has passed a bill aimed at curbing lawsuits against business owners who refuse services based on their religious beliefs.
According to a news story by azcentral.com, the bill is a response to the court decision in New Mexico forcing a baker to provide a cake for a gay wedding.
I haven’t read the bill, and don’t have an opinion about its specific language. I do, however support the concept of conscience rights. I think we’re going to see more of this type of legislation. Based on recent court rulings and the spate of lawsuits filed against mom and pop businesses, a legislative solution is needed.
However, I don’t think such solutions as these will work long-term, or even short-term. The entire issue has become court-based, and the courts seem willing to override the will of the people with very little consideration for the gravity involved in taking that action. The DOMA decision is the Roe of gay marriage, and it will end up having similar results.
If the court had allowed DOMA to stand, that would have pushed the debate back to a legislative level. If courts had refused to overturn votes of the people in the domino fashion which they are doing, I think the entire issue would have been settled in a long series of legislative battles at the state level. This would have taken more time, but it ultimately would have saved America what is going to be an ugly, on-going battle that will polarize and damage our country even further.
If you follow this link, you’ll be able to watch a news video about the vote. You can see how difficult this vote was for everyone involved. As one legislator to another, my heart goes out to all of them, on both sides of the question. From azcentral.com:
The Arizona Legislature has passed a controversial religion bill that is again thrusting Arizona into the national spotlight in a debate over discrimination.
House Bill 2153, 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.
The bill, which was introduced last month and has been described by opponents as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, has drawn national media coverage. Discussion of the bill went viral on social media during the House floor debate Thursday.
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.
Proponents argue that the bill is simply a tweak to existing state religious-freedom laws to ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.
The bill will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has five days to sign it into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law.