Republican senator signals the return of SB1062 under, you guessed it, the banner of Hobby Lobby


hl 1062

On Monday the AZ Republic featured a pair of op-eds from a Republican State Senator and the outgoing Democratic House Minority Leader about the prospect of a reformulated SB1062 in the upcoming Arizona legislative session.

Here’s Senator Nancy Barto (R) explaining why opponents of discrimination are misguided meaniebutts:

To start — the vast majority of the attacks against this simple bill were at best misunderstandings of the legislation, or at worst outright lies with the endgame of conditioning the public into automatically equating faith with bigotry — in the name of equality and fairness.

On the contrary, SB 1062 brought Arizona in line with federal law and would not have created any “new right” to discriminate (i.e. refusing people taxi, hotel or restaurant service).

The Supreme Court made this clear in June when they said the Green family, who own Hobby Lobby, couldn’t be forced to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their insurance plans as “Obamacare” mandated — meaning they didn’t have to surrender their First Amendment rights simply because they started a business.

This is exactly what SB 1062 would have clarified in Arizona.

Christ, how many times does it have to be explained that the Hobby Lobby decision pertained to all birth control methods? And that Hobby Lobby has already been successfully cited in a case having nothing to do with birth control?

Apparently, it does have to be explained repeatedly, as this comment to the AZ Republic piece indicates:

I don’t know where to begin. The Hobby Lobby case is distinctly different from cases where business owners have tried to refuse service to homosexuals. The only similarity is that extreme Religious elements are attempting to force their beliefs onto others. If the Arizona Legislature passes anything similar to SB 1062, it will simply be challenged in court and deemed unconstitutional.

This person is clearly not a Cathi Herrod fan but thinks that Hobby Lobby is distinctly different from SB1062 because why? Most likely it’s because the Hobby Lobby case was, on its face, about ladies having non-procreative sex. The religious groups behind the case were counting on the propensity of many people to believe that sexually active women of childbearing age inhabit a different moral and legal orbit from that which “real people” i.e. “people who are not ladies having non-procreative sex, i.e. sluts”, do. Many people who are unsympathetic to Cathi Herrod’s and Antonin Scalia’s views in nearly all circumstances are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when they use “religious freedom” to punish the sluts, despite the potential of that blowing open the door to discrimination against anyone.

Even some legal experts try to draw a distinction where there is none. Here is Jeffery Toobin, legal expert, trying to do that:

The Arizona law and the Hobby Lobby case represent two sides of the same coin. Both assert that the invocation of a religious belief allows a company to opt out of a government requirement that applies to everyone else. But, for better or worse, the politics of the two situations are very different. The Arizona law involved no expenditure of funds by government or the private sector; it was a straight-up question of whether discrimination will be permitted. Hobby Lobby, on the other hand, represents an out-of-pocket cash obligation of a kind that a corporation is always looking to avoid. And the question of birth control is bound up with the question of sex, which makes conservatives uncomfortable, to say the least. It is also tied to the politics of abortion.

Toobin warns of the danger of Hobby Lobby to gay rights, but he also sees the Hobby Lobby case as different because of expenditures. In so doing, Toobin is acting as though women don’t really earn their employment-based health plans the same as men as do, and that we don’t pay insurance premiums and taxes (which is where those “government expenditures” come from). Seriously, Toobin nearly erases women’s participation in the labor market and contribution to the tax base so that he can invoke conservative discomfort over said women having sex! That’s going pretty far to make Hobby Lobby “different” but even some nice, reasonable people (as I believe Jeffery Toobin to be) will go to those lengths to excuse legally codified slut shaming. It’s our national religion, after all.

I think a lot of people do, and will, get that Hobby Lobby and SB1062 spring from the same authoritarian impulse and that if you work to stop SB1062 to protect LGBT rights you have to do the same when it comes back disguised as Hobby Lobby. But I’m afraid too many people in Arizona will hear “birth control” and “abortifacients” and conclude that it’s either not their problem or that the religious bigots have a point on this one because, you know, sluts. It has been thus for forty years.


  1. Yes, SB1062 is a case of using religious toleration to defend religious intolerance. The First Amendment prohibits any law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof. It is regrettable that the framers did not also prohibit any law that would respect the establishment of any religious belief, or any restriction of freedom from religion, or any religious belief.

  2. Freedom isn’t free in fact it is the most expensive thing there is. Is the gay community and the democratic party willing to pay the price it will cost to stop it ?

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