The AZ Senate debated SB1062, which would allow discrimination so long as it was for “sincerely held” religious reasons. Theocrats have tried, unsuccessfully, to pass similar laws in four other states but there’s a chance Governor Brewer could sign this one if it passes the House. The video isn’t up yet but the floor session was interesting.
Democrats tried valiantly to amend the bill on the floor, including one attempt where Sen. Ableser, hilariously, got the Republicans on record as supporting the rights of Satanists to do their thing. Democrats also cited several possible ways the law could be used to discriminate against LGBT and other groups, which Sen. Yarbrough (R) dismissed as “goofy hypotheticals”.
Center for Arizona Policy is, naturally, behind this bill and its President, Cathi Herrod, was busily tweeting throughout the proceeding. She, too, was miffed at how the bill was being portrayed.
If this bill does practically nothing, then why is it so important? Considering CAP’s long history of attacking gay rights and women’s health it’s difficult to believe they’re simply asserting the existing right to practice one’s faith. And if you look at the language of the bill itself, it gives broad abilities to people to run to the courts when they feel they’re being oppressed (emphasis mine).
41-1493.01. Free exercise of religion protected; definition A. 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.
Hat tip to Robin Marty, for reporting this story from Tennessee.
A Tennessee pharmacist is suing his former employer for religious discrimination, after the Walgreens that he worked for fired him for refusing to sell emergency contraception. According to The Tennessean, Phillip Hall was dismissed from his position after he purchased his store’s full shipment of Plan B and threw it out rather than stock it on the shelves for customers to buy. Hall, who had already been refusing to sell the emergency contraception when it was stocked behind the shelves, called the drug “sinful and repugnant,” according to his lawsuit.
This is precisely the kind of idiocy that SB1062 (and it’s identical counterpart HB2153) are intended to advance. These numbnuts aren’t necessarily going to win every lawsuit they file alleging their “religious freedom” is being violated but they will tie up the courts and be a problem for businesses here. Democrats pointed this out during the floor debate.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, warned of economic consequences if the Legislature passed the bill and it is signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. He said companies would begin to avoid Arizona, as they did after the state passed its signature immigration crackdown law, SB1070, in 2010. “I think this bill makes a statement … that we don’t welcome people here,” Farley said. “This bill gets in the way, this bill sends the wrong message around the country and around the world.”
Yeah, I would say that if not only bosses, but employees – particularly if said employees are supported by very well-funded religious groups – are demanding accommodation for their religious whims, that’s going to be a tiny tad of an issue for some very large corporations that would rather not deal with any of it. All the more reason to stop it in its tracks.