Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill Protecting Religious Rights of Business Owners

Jan_BrewerPHOENIX — A billed passed by Arizona lawmakers last week which sought to protect business owners and shield them from unlawful discrimination lawsuits has been vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.

“I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want,” Brewer said.

HB 2153 had cleared the Arizona House of Representatives 33-27, amending sections 41‑1493 and 41‑1493.01 of the state code pertaining to the free exercise of religion. The bill broadened the definition of a religious entity to include businesses and associations, and prohibited state officials from burdening the entity’s free exercise of religion without the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest.

The bill was modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed in the 1990’s, but sought to ensure that Arizona protects the right to religious conviction without punishment. The RFRA only applies on a federal level and does not pertain to state action.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) and other groups have condemned the legislation as paving the way for unlawful discrimination against minorities, but bill sponsor Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler) said that the measure conversely protects religious business owners against bigotry.

“This bill is not about allowing discrimination,” he said on the Senate floor last Wednesday. “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Yarbrough’s version of the bill passed the Senate 17-13 before moving on to the House of Representatives the following day.

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“As we witness hostility towards people of faith grow like never before, we must take this opportunity to speak up for religious liberty,” said the Center for Arizona Policy. “The great news is that [this bill] protects your right to live and work according to your faith.”

As previously reported, concerns have been mounting over the past year after lawsuits and civil discrimination complaints have been filed against religious business owners who have declined certain orders due to their Christian convictions. The majority of the cases have centered around the issue of homosexual “marriage.”

While none of the business owners have denied service to homosexuals in general, all have stated that certain jobs would equate to personal participation in the ceremony or celebration—which would violate their conscience. Florists, bakers and bed and breakfast owners nationwide have faced discrimination charges for declining the orders, and one photographer from New Mexico is currently appealing her case to the U.S. Supreme Court after being told that she must “compromise” her beliefs to facilitate requests to shoot homosexual ceremonies.

In addition to protecting business owners’ views on marriage, the Center for Arizona Policy noted that the bill could also protect businesses that have fought for their religious rights to conscience surrounding Obamacare. Many businesses have declined to provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs due to their Christian beliefs.

“People don’t forfeit their religious freedom rights simply because they go to work or start a business,” the organization stated. “The Constitution doesn’t only guarantee our freedom to worship but our freedom to practice and promote our faith. Americans don’t have to leave their faith and convictions at their church door; we have the right to carry it with us in all aspects of our lives.”

Photograph: Gage Skidmore

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  • Sam

    Don’t keep them out, win them over by God’s Grace instead. They won’t influence you, with God with you, it will be the other way around.

  • Mary Waterton

    Elane Photography in New Mexico is forced to photograph a “homosexual wedding” or pay $6000 in fines. Sweet Cakes in Oregon faces hundreds of thousands in fines for refusing to make a lesbian wedding cake. What’s next? People forced to perform abortions? People forced to march in sodomite parades? Pastors forced to perform sodomite wedding ceremonies?

    A government that can force you participate in “homosexual wedding” is a government that can force you to wear 666.

    There’s not a dimes worth of difference between a democrat and a republican. I think I’ve voted for the last time.

    • James J. Grimes

      A baked in Colorado is facing a year in jail for refusing to bake a cake for a gay ceremony. How far we have fallen from once being a great nation!

  • Sir Tainly

    For me it is all about “intentions” and their relative moral worth.

    I am all for Christian business owners being able to make their own choices, unless it effectively blacklists people who have the right to choose for themselves as well.

    For instance it wasn’t too long ago that their were many “pseudo-Biblical” justifications that were floating around among the more stinky winds of doctrine that attempted to justify racism. If some neo-nazi skinhead tried to use this type of law to persecute a mixed race couple, I’d either throw the law on the scrap heap or ammend it as fast as humanly possible.

    • Sir Tainly

      Abortion is not murder! If it was I would understand the anti-abortion hysterics.

      Since I believe that abortion is not murder, it needs to remain a choice….a difficult, soul searching moment that involves some of the biologically deepest instincts even during the best circumstances.

      Keep our laws, our lawmakers, and our self-righteous know-it-alls away from any woman or family that needs to navigate these troubled waters, and peace to them….know matter what they choose. 🙂

      • Steve

        You’re obviously an incredibly dishonest, confused person to think that killing a living human being is not murder. Have you ever watched a film of a fetus desperately trying to get out of the way of the abortionists tools? Or a live birth of a living breathing child with its arms waving around while someone cuts it’s spinal cord with a pair of scissors? You really make me sick and it’s people like you that are the reason America has become a cesspool for everything evil, vile and disgusting

        • Sir Tainly

          Well Steve:

          You have not one ordinance, law, or statute in the Bible to back you up. So what kind of false prophets have been feeding you your corrupt diet of spiritual food anyhow!?

          Moses was raised as a Prince in Egypt and mastered all they taught him…including LIKELY that they had ways to end unfortunate pregnancies. (It says in acts he was learned in all Egyptian education) But instead of writing an ordinance to end abortions and/or induced miscarriages…..he wrote an ordinance that would induce a miscarriage (abortion by proxy) if perchance a woman would be pregnant through adultery. (Numbers 5:11-31)

          So before any more of you students of the false prophets trouble me with your opinions as to what Christians can not be….at least try to trouble me with a Godly ordinance so that I might reconsider. You will not find the law….IT IS NOT IN GOD’S WORD!

          I do not believe that abortion is murder. Therefore it should remain a deeply personal and private choice for women and/or couples to grapple with and I wish them all peace.

          For whatever it’s worth to you Numbers 5: 11-31 is a record where it is recorded that God will give a miscarriage to a woman that has been unfaithful.

          I think that many people sincerely believe that abortion is murder, but they mistakenly seek to take the same option away from women or couples that may find themselves in a similar situation. Your version of purity and ethical integrity does not fit well with many people or their unique situations, but I do not deny you the freedom to not choose abortion either.

          In numbers GOD HIMSELF aborts fetuses in certain situations, but you do-gooders think that you know it all. Abortion is not murder….unless you think that God is morally inferior to you as well based on Numbers 5.

          The issue as I see it is that God gave all care and responsibility for a fetus to the mom first and foremost, and of course by association to anyone involved in her life. Care for pregnant women will of course reflect on us as a culture in God’s eyes I believe. But the choice is hers.

          There ARE NO GODLY STATUTES banning abortion, and even in this case an abortion (pretty much) is granted by God. And we don’t stone and vilify women publicly anymore since Jesus told the one woman that he did not condemn her either.

          So biblicaly speaking the urge to ban abortions may be ethically and spiritually refuted by any number of answers from “none of your dang business” TO “not only is your law stupid, but it has no resemblance whatsoever to anything God has said….EVER.”

      • Freda McCann

        “Soul-searching moment”? What humanistic nonsense!

        • Sir Tainly

          Wow Freda, why every point that I made practically falls apart after your pointed retort. (sarcasm yanno)

          I just searched “soul searching moment” (including the quotation marks to get accurate results) and found with a simple and quick perusal that the majority of hits have to do with religious topics, from Christian commentators. So in terms of general usage, calling “soul searching moment” a humanistic phrase is blatant nonsense. A humanist would most likely call the concept of a soul nonsense anyway. 😛

  • Jane Lanois

    And so evil takes over the world, one soul at a time. I cannot wait for the Lord Jesus to return as Judge, Ruler, and King!