From the moment of this writing and as minutes tick by, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed the Arizona State legislature’s bill, known as SB 1062. For those who haven’t been following on Facebook and Daily Kos, SB 1062 is a Jim Crow law that would in effect allow businesses to discriminate based on the owners’ religious beliefs.
The key provisions of 1062 were that it: 1. Expands the definition of exercise of religion to specifically include both the practice and observance of religion. 2. Expands the definition of person to include any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity. 3. Changes the terminology within the prohibition of burdening a person’s exercise of religion to apply to state action instead of government. 4. Defines state action as any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or action is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons. 5. Specifies that a free exercise of religion claim or defense may be asserted in a judicial proceeding regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.
The spirit of the law was originally to protect vendors in the wedding industry (bakers, caterers) from lawsuits for refusing service to same-sex couples. But the law’s generalized language, written in part as an attempt not to LOOK directly discriminatory and anti-LGBT, had unanticipated problems. As written, the bill appeared to legalize discrimination in all its forms, allowing anyone to discriminate against everyone else based on their religious beliefs.
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