Vetoing Discrimination

February 26, 2014

Arizona Governor Janet Brewer is no stranger to controversy and has developed a reputation as a fiery conservative willing to stand up for her beliefs on issues like gun control, healthcare, and especially immigration. Today she took a stand against many of her conservative supporters by vetoing a bill that would have allowed business owners to invoke religious beliefs to discriminate against gays. Although proponents of this bill (and one that died in Kansas and similar ones introduced in other states) have claimed the bill would protect the religious liberty rights of business owners, Brewer rightly rejected that argument. In her comments about vetoing the bill, she argued:

As Governor, I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in OUR state. ... 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. ... Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination.
Brewer correctly notes that religious liberty is not really the issue. This argument being used by conservative Christians distorts the law and the faith. When James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Leland, and others fought to implement religious liberty rights in the U.S., they did so to protect the rights of the minority and not to allow the majority to persecute the minority. Additionally, there is nothing in the Christian faith that says a Christian's faith means not selling stuff to gays. To call this part of living out the faith is to admit one's faith is not biblical. As I argued last week, living out the faith would instead mean serving everyone like Jesus did. Unfortunately, those trying to legislate their hatred of gays are hurting the witness of the Christian faith by calling their efforts an effort to live our their religion.

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