Earlier this year the political pundits were all patting themselves on the back because the Tea-Publican Arizona legislature had not reintroduced the so-called “religious liberty” (license to discriminate) bill, SB 1062, that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed last year after a firestorm of bad national publicity for Arizona. I warned you at the time not to read too much into this, Cathi Herrod is just biding her time.
I am right, of course. In the Arizona Republic today, Indiana uproar echoes SB 1062 furor in Ariz.:
Arizona’s SB 1062 sought to amend the state’s RFRA to provide a legal defense for individuals and businesses facing discrimination lawsuits if they proved they acted upon a “sincerely held religious belief.”
Cathi Herrod, president of the socially conservative Center for Arizona Policy, was the driving force behind SB 1062. On Friday, the center issued a statement praising Pence and Indiana.
In an interview Monday with The Arizona Republic, Herrod noted that Indiana’s new law also was informed by the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, which clarified RFRA can apply to closely held businesses. That case involved an objection to federally mandated birth-control coverage.
Indiana’s law is “not word for word, but it’s very similar to the Arizona law that we have as well as incorporating some of the changes that we were trying to make” [with SB 1062], Herrod said.
The Arizona Legislature’s regular session is winding down, and Herrod said for now there is no effort to revisit SB 1062-style legislation. CAP is waiting for a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and monitoring other court cases to “determine whether Arizona’s (RFRA) law needs tweaking and updating or not,” she said.
Should the U.S. Supreme Court recognize constitutional equal protection for same-sex marriages and strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and state law limitations on same-sex marriages in late June, you can rest assured that Cathi Herrod and her her Christian Taliban will be back with a so-called “religious liberty” bill that will in effect be a license to discriminate, just like SB 1062 and the Indiana law.
To my friends in Why Marriage Matters Arizona, the Human Rights Campaign and Arizona ACLU, I hope that you have not been resting on your laurels since the Court ruled in your favor last October. Your work is not done; your civil rights are not yet secured. You should be working to preempt Cathi Herrod.
There are two ballot measures you must be prepared to file shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its opinion in the same-sex marriage appeals in late June:
Remove the artifact of State Sanctioned Discrimination from the Arizona Constitution
The federal courts have struck down Article 30 of the Arizona Constitution, approved by voters as Proposition 102 (2008), amending the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman only. Same-sex marriage is now a reality in Arizona.
But this artifact of state sanctioned discrimination should be repealed and removed from the Arizona Constitution, much in the same way that former slave states repealed constitutional provisions for slavery and Jim Crow laws in state constitutions.
Amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act
Amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, public accommodations, and housing in the same manner as other protected classes currently covered under the ACA. This provides broader coverage than the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
This bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature every year since the mid-1990s, and has gone nowhere — despite the fact that most Arizonans believe, wrongly, that such anti-discrimination protections already exist.
Don’t wait for Cathi Herrod and her minions to take the fight to you in the next legislature. It is in your best interest to preemptively take the fight to Cathi Herrod and her ilk with ballot measures this summer.
Finally, I would add a third ballot measure, for those of you who are concerned about equal rights for women, in the wake of the “junk science” abortion bill from Cathi Herrod.
Equal Rights Amendment to the Arizona Constitution
Rep. Victoria Steele earlier this year sponsored a resolution that the state of Arizona approve the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Her resolution, of course, went nowhere in the Tea-Publican legislature.
I explained to Rep. Steele the other day that what is needed is an Equal Rights Amendment to the Arizona Constitution, something far easier to accomplish by citizens initiative. It should incorporate key language of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for example:
The State shall not make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of Arizona on account of a person’s sex; nor shall the State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
What this will accomplish is that it will require the courts to apply the strict scrutiny standard of review to legislative acts to determine whether there is a compelling state interest that outweighs a woman’s individual liberty rights. Much of what the Tea-Publican Arizona legislature does on behalf of Cathi Herrod and the CAP in treating women as second-class citizens, mere incubators for a fetus possessing superior “rights,” will not survive the strict scrutiny standard of review. This is a game changer.
If women want their equal rights then they have to step up and fight for their equal rights! No one is going to do it for you. Seize the initiative with this Equal Rights Amendment to the Arizona Constitution.
Time is wasting. File these three initiatives. Do it soon.