In a stunning turn of events, lawmakers in Arizona have managed to come up with and pass a bill that allows businesses to deny service to LGBT customers based on strong religious beliefs. Specifically, the bill adds legal protection for businesses from discrimination suits when they turn away a customer or client based on their sexual orientation. The fight for LGBT rights has always been a struggle to make opposition realize that America’s government functions separately from their faith. This new anti-gay bill in Arizona has actively defied and ignored the separation of church and state, allowing people to claim their religious beliefs as lawful means with which to discriminate.
There is still time to veto the bill, according to Governor Jan Brewer, who intends to “explore” the new law further before making her decision. However, the fact that the bill even managed to come into existence in the first place is baffling. Several businesses have already come out against the bill, advocating for Brewer to veto it. Her decision must be made by next Friday, and LGBT advocates and supporters in Arizona and around the United States are all pushing for the Republican governor to reject the bill.
The United States of America is supposed to be a secular nation, where people may hold any religious beliefs that they wish without the government restricting them. Despite some religion-based legal traditions, such as swearing yourself to truthful testimony on the Bible in a court of law, there is no official religion attached to the United States government at any level.
This turn of events reveals that Arizona’s legislators are of the sect that believe that “secular” is synonymous with “Christian,” which is a very big issue with American government in general. There is no way that faith-based law can be secular, and thus there is no way that the anti-gay bill passed by Arizona’s legislation can be anything but defiant of the separation of church and state upon which the country’s government was founded.
The ease with which this type of controversial bill manages to pass through legislation in many states really brings up a lot of questions with how the government makes its decisions at different levels. If a law comes forth with regards to a certain faith’s abilities to practice that faith, according to the first amendment, it will be unconstitutional. However, if a law comes forth that allows members of the Christian faith to discriminate against certain groups of people at their discretion, there is suddenly a debate as to whether the bill should be vetoed.
Arizona has really put themselves in a bad spot by passing this anti-gay bill, and if Governor Brewer defies the wishes of the businesses and advocates to uphold the separation of church and state and signs the bill into effect, then there is no telling what this example would set for other states. Everything is connected, and other lawmakers who have made it their mission to stand in the way of equal rights and freedoms for all may take this as inspiration to write their own so-called “right to discriminate” laws; it is cruel and unjust to pass law after law restricting the rights of minority groups for months or years until the Supreme Court topples the bill.
Opinion By Robin Syrenne