Arizona passes “Citizens United”-type law protecting corporations’ “religious beliefs”

A draconian new law, on its way to the governor of Arizona for her signature, would make businesses “people” for the purposes of claiming “religious discrimination” in the state.

The law, SB1062, would also dramatically expand the scope of current religious protections for individuals under Arizona state law, making potentially every state law unenforceable in court, should someone claim that enforcement of the law impinges on their religious beliefs.

This is a particular problem for gay and trans Arizonans, whose civil rights are protected in only a handful of cities, but not under any state (or federal) civil rights law.  A restaurant could now claim that its religious beliefs are offended by serving someone gay, or a bank could say it has a religious problem with providing a loan to someone who is transgender.  The absurd over-reach of the legislation is leading some to call it the “Stand Your God” law.

In essence, the new law would undermine existing civil rights protections for gay and trans people in those cities – and that was in fact the original intent of the law, to permit discrimination against gays.  But the law also potentially harms every Arizonan.  Here’s why.

SB1062 grossly expands state protections for “religious beliefs”

It’s all a bit complicated, as are most things legal, but I had a long talk last night with the Alessandra Soler, the executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, and one of her staff attorneys.  And in a nutshell, Arizona, like many states, already has a law on the books protecting religious freedom.  It’s called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA).  But RFRA only applies when the government is a party to the dispute, AND when the “victim” of religious discrimination is either an individual, religious assembly or religious institution.

Enter SB1062.

Under the new law, the government no longer needs to be a party – all you’ll need is “government action.” (More on that in a moment.)

And the law not only protects individuals, religious assemblies and religious institutions, it also would now protect private businesses, who under this new law could now claim to have “religious beliefs.”

What does all this mean?

Under RFRA (existing law in Arizona), if a restaurant doesn’t want to serve a gay couple, and the gay couple sues, the restaurant could not invoke RFRA in its defense.

Why?  Because:

1) The restaurant is not an individual, religious assembly or religious institution – so RFRA doesn’t apply; and

2) The government isn’t a party to the suit – the gay couple is the plaintiff, and the restaurant is the defendant – so again, current RFRA doesn’t apply.

Under SB1062, however, the list of individuals and entities protected by the law would now be expanded to include associations, partnerships, corporations, churches, religious assemblies or institutions, foundations, and other legal entities.

That means even your homeowners’ association (HOA), which is a legal entity, could now have a religion, and potentially refuse to enforce your condo bylaws based on whatever religious concerns they have about you.

This is quite literally Citizens United for religion.

Tracey Stewart of the Anti-Defamation League agrees about the “troublesome” new definition of religious personhood that SB1062 would grant businesses. From a letter she released last month:

This broad definition of person would essentially include any for-profit business corporation or business entity providing them with a powerful affirmative defense to the enforcement of any state law or local ordinance which the entity deems religiously offensive.

As for RFRA’s second requirement, that the government be a party to the suit, under SB1062 you’ll only need “government action” in order to invoke RFRA. That means that two individuals, or an individual and a company, or two companies can have a dispute over, say, a contract, and if one party goes to court to enforce the contract, the other party can invoke SB1062, claim that the contract violates their religious beliefs, and attempt to stop the court from enforcing it all together.

You see, if the court were to enforce the contract, that’s “government action.”  So an amended-RFRA would now apply to disputes between two individuals, and individual and a corporation, or two corporations (or any other entity covered by the new the law).

What kind of “government action” would be covered under SB1062?

The “government action” that might be covered under the new law could be just about anything.  As previously discussed, SB1062 could stop courts from enforcing contracts, or even hearing tort disputes.

But government action isn’t just limited to judges.

Under the new law, what if a police officer, or an EMT, refused to answer a 911 call because the citizen in need was gay and “living in sin,” and this offended the emergency responder’s religious beliefs?

If the city had a civil rights public accommodations law covering gay and trans people, you could sue the city under that law, but the officer and the city could both claim to be exempt under RFRA, since your sexual orientation offended their religious beliefs. And as cities are “legal entities,” SB1062 could also permit the city to claim protection for their religious beliefs under RFRA, though this might run afoul of federal constitutional protections.

Now that doesn’t mean the officer and the city would be able to meet the burden of proof provided under the law. But RFRA would offer them a new arrow in their quiver, with which to undermine civil rights laws and basic city services to all citizens.

And even if you didn’t sue, but simply wanted the police department to reprimand the officer in question, the officer could simply claim that under the new-and-improved RFRA the city is not permitted to take government action that impinges on his freedom of religion, so they can’t punish him for his religious beliefs.  Now, again, the officer would have to meet the law’s burden of proof, but the point is that he wouldn’t even have this ridiculous defense under current law, he would under SB1062.

I know this 911-example sounds absurd, but Tyra Hunter, a trans woman in DC, died several years back because the emergency responders refused to help her when they found out she was transgender.  These things actually do happen.

The ADL offer some additional examples of the kinds of absurd claims that could be made under SB1062:

  • An employer could raise SB 1062 as defense to an employee’s equal pay claim under A.R.S. §23-341 arguing that his or her religious beliefs require that men be paid more than women.
  • The legislation could be used as defense to paying statutorily accrued interest on liens or other amount owed to individuals or private entities based on a religious objection to paying interest.
  • A secular corporation with religious owners could refuse to hire someone from a different religion, so as to avoid paying a salary that might be used for a purpose that is offensive to the owners’ religious views.
  • A Christian-owned hotel chain might refuse to rent rooms to those who would use the space to study the Koran or Talmud.
  • A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.

Hobby Lobby and the Affordable Care Act

Or take the case of Hobby Lobby.

The arts and crafts chain has sued the Obama administration, claiming that it should be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage provisions because it’s a really pious arts and crafts store.

Under federal law, it remains to be seen whether picture frames and glitter count as the body of Christ, and whether a company, in contrast to the people running the business, can have religious beliefs.  But under an amended state RFRA, corporations would now be Christians too, and Hobby Lobby might just have a claim, at least in Arizona.

This is all about the gays

While SB1062 is ridiculously broad, and could undermine every state law affecting every citizen of Arizona, make no mistake – the underlying intent here is to take a swipe at gays.

Arizona Republicans, clearly following the lead of some yet-to-be-identified national religious right group, claim they’re trying to avoid a situation where a gay couple sues because their wedding photographer backs out because the bride and bride are gay.  Of course, forget the fact that gays can’t even get married in Arizona.  In another state. a gay couple sued over such a claim, so Arizona Republicans just had to preemptively bash the gay.

And Arizona ACLU executive director Soler confirmed last night that the real target for this overly-broad legislation is gays and lesbians:

“Once again Arizona’s Legislature is on the wrong side of history. Four years ago, after the passage of SB 1070, we were ridiculed for legalizing discrimination against brown people. The targets today are gay and lesbian Arizonans. They own homes, run businesses and pay taxes just like everyone else but under the guise of religious freedom they are now being vilified by Arizona lawmakers. This bill is not about God or faith. There are already laws on the books in Arizona protecting religious freedom. What today’s bill does is allow private individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate, sending a message that Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming.”

The curious thing is that we’ve seen similar “religious freedom” bills proposed recently in Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Kansas, Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma and Mississippi.  It’s clear that some religious right group, in cahoots with the Republican party, has latched on to this as the new way to bash gay people in the 21st century.  And while in a number of states recently, the effort failed, in Arizona it hasn’t.  (Our own Becca Morn has more on this nationwide coordinated campaign.)

It’s now up to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

UPDATE: Great interview by Anderson Cooper demolishing a GOP supporter of the legislation.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Politiva_com

    The media firestorm and hysteria on this was amazing. There was no provision for widespread discrimination against anyone in this bill. It only amended a law that is already on the books in AZ and many other states. This is only a law that allows a religious protection defense if sued. You would still have to prove that your had an undue burden placed on your religious beliefs. If the court did not agree that your religious beliefs were overtly in jeopardy you would lose on this defense. Too bad its a sound bite world.

  • cesium62

    Where are the religious freedoms for Muslims who believe it is right to kill infidels? Where are the religious freedoms for Christians who believe it is right to own slaves?

  • cesium62

    No. See counter questions above.

  • cesium62

    No.

    If you are a Muslim and believe that people should be killed for drawing cartoons of Muhammad, should you be allowed to kill the infidels?

    If you are a conservative christian and believe that black-skinned people are inferior to white-skinned people, should you be allowed to discriminate?

  • Jeff Putterman

    Peace out? Now you are a wannabe nigga? You are clueless about many things, and I blame your parents and your church.

    Hopefully a real “thug” will hear you pretending to be black, and beat some sense into your ignorant white ass.

  • Politiva_com

    You seem to be running your own game of “can I top this” using vile vitriol, and you still didn’t answer the question. Peace out.

  • Jeff Putterman

    Don’t forget their stupid neighbor texas.

  • Jeff Putterman

    Well said, you bigot and hater.

  • Jeff Putterman

    You think the legislators in arizona have read the Constitution? You give them far too much credit.

  • Jeff Putterman

    And Flake’s son is a known racist homophobic piece of dung.

  • Jeff Putterman

    What are you babbling about? Did you take your meds today? There are no laws protecting gays in arizona, so they couldn’t destroy a christian business (as if a business could have a religion) if they wanted to.

  • Jeff Putterman

    Speaking of strokes, you should stop before your mother comes home and finds you jerking yourself off in the basement. Which part of the Bill of Rights do you not understand, you christian taliban mook?

  • Politiva_com

    You still didn’t answer. I’ll stop before you have a stroke.

  • SpiritualDrummer

    If gays hadn’t tried to forced other people to perform actions against their religious beliefs then this bill wouldn’t be needed. They picked out a Chrstian business to attack and destroy it. That was their purpose. There were plenty of other businesses but that wanted to destroy theses. Instead of being tolerant of others and their beliefs they decided to be intolerant and go on the offensive. Thus the law is needed to protect againt intolerant agressive gays who cannot leave people alone. They feel it is their duty to force other to accept and believe as they do. The very thing they complain that Christians are doing (which is not happening) they are now doing. Christian have never gone to court to force someone to accept and take part in a Christian activity against their will. But this is want the gays are suing for. It seems that government and courts forcing people to do or buy things against their will is becoming the thing today. Irregardless of what the Constitution says, freedom is fading in America.

  • Jeff Putterman

    Nice try you homophobic ignorant jerk. And just for the record, your spelling is worse than your ability to think coherently. No one has the right to discriminate in this country, where we have a separation of church and state. Try reading our constitution and the bill of rights, you bigoted tool.

  • Politiva_com

    Your not answering the question again and Your intolerance is showing.

  • Jeff Putterman

    Since when is a right wing christian lunatic defending the rights of a muslim to practice discriminatory behavior in this country? And since when did we use the specious and impossible to define “religious freedom” to allow discrimination? You are committing treason against our constitution and the bill of rights. Pathetic taliban actalike fool.

  • Politiva_com

    That’s not an answer.

  • Jeff Putterman

    I thought the grand canyon was awesome when I saw it. Made me think about the planet, the beauty, etc.

  • BloggerDave

    I believe the point is moot as Jan is going to veto it…

  • Nat

    Jeff, yet again a wonderful response to the ALL WET Wetzel!

  • Nat

    Jeff, completely agree!

  • Jeff Putterman

    Yes, so hopefully you can capture them without their hoods!

  • Jeff Putterman

    You think Muslims don’t swing?

  • Research Junkie

    Thank you for this comment. What I said does require clarification. I only meant that they could have applied pressure to those state senators to keep this thing from ever being passed. Flake and McCain still wield political power in their party and it was an all republican led bill in the state senate.

  • Marty Meyer

    I agree with that. The damage is done. People will think twice before moving to Arizona, as will businesses. If such a thing could even get out of a committee, much less be in front of a governor, this would give anyone pause to establish a business or to live there over time. People don’t want to have to move because a state government becomes abusive to its citizens in their equality. This is not about state’s rights — it is about human rights.

  • nvrbl

    They want equal rights. There is a big difference between disagreeing with someone and discriminating against them.

  • Marty Meyer

    This is not just about the gays — this is about so many other areas. What if a pharmacist refuses to dispense a Rx for birth control, venereal disease, etc. What about a restaurant refusing to serve fat people in an “all you can eat” buffet, based on “religion” and “gluttony.” Look, if you are going to have a business, you serve the public — and that is US, and you cannot pick and choose a particular faction of US you will not serve. This is not about those who are gay — it is about all of US, and it is wrong.

  • Politiva_com

    If you are a Muslim caterer and you are asked to cater a swingers party do you have to do it?

  • duckfaceantonacio

    This is nothing but perverted stupidity and hatred. I guess Bob Smith is worried that “agreeing” with someone else’s gay lifestyle will make him a sinner in the eyes of God? He thinks that being a cake baker for a gay wedding is somehow against the 10 Commandments. You can easily see he’s also obsessed with gay sex. I’m pretty sure most of the anti-gay people left in the world think about anal sex more times each day and more often than anyone in the universe!

  • Politiva_com

    If you are a photographer and the KKK wants you to take candids at their next meeting do you have to do it?

  • Politiva_com

    “Now that doesn’t mean the officer and the city would be able to meet the burden of proof provided under the law.” …You had to hunt for this nugget in amongst all the alarmist bullcrap but its there. The law states that their needs to be an undue burden on religious beliefs to use this law in defense of a civil suit. All the other fantasy scenarios painted here hinge on that burden of proof. Asking a baker to make a giant peni$ cake for a wedding is a burden on beliefs that may be proven, throwing someone out of your restaurant because you think they are gay is not.

  • http://www.goodhelpweb.com Goodhelp

    #ikoihil, It’s likely the previous poster meant that junior US Senator Jeff Flake and Senator McCain, both Arizona residents, could have used their considerable conservative influence to quash the effort in the state legislature. But since Mr. Flake is a BYU graduate, the mystery deepens!

  • Jeff Putterman

    Wetzel, Scientists would be better off spending time trying to alter the genetic flaw that limits your intelligence to a single digit IQ.

  • Jeff Putterman

    This scotus might like this law. The five gop as swipes would.

  • Jeff Putterman

    You can see the grand canyon from utah. Not that those pasty white mormons deserve your money either.

  • Jeff Putterman

    I already started. My daughter wanted to go to grad school there. I told her she cannot and I will not pay for it.

  • Jeff Putterman

    I just added arizona to the list of states I will never visit, and will never send a penny to.

    Whether your stupid governor vetoes this law or not, you idiots voted for the clowns who wrote it, and who voted for it. So you deserve whatever economic losses you face.

  • Jeff Putterman

    If you aren’t trying to be funny, you have no idea how funny you are! Where in the bible does it say: Thou shalt not bake a cake for a homosexual?

  • Wetzel

    So where are the religious freedoms for a small business owner who can not bake a cake for a homosexual couple? and where are the scientists who will finally come to help the homosexuals who are trapped in this genetic flaw hell?

  • Cooltoad81

    No not really, Kim boy is as evil as evil gets. for now, the republicants have to be happy in the #2 place.

  • Michael Walsh

    The fact that this bill got to the Governor’s desk is a total and complete embarrassment for the State of AZ. Whoever came up with this idea and wrote this bill can kiss their political career good-bye.
    And whoever voted for it, wow.
    This is like we’ve all traveled back in time to the 50s in Mississippi.

  • frumpus

    Republicans are the worst people alive. They make Kim Jong Un look like Gandhi.

  • Bronson Page

    What a waste of time, especially when there are real and serious problems we face as a nation. Despicable.

  • urownexperience

    All republicans think the same way as Arizona, they just hide it better.

  • Doug Peters

    Its amazing to me that legislators even thought that this bill was a good idea! I’m speechless. These very same republicans will speak of america the free, yet turn around and say “except if you’re gay, hindu, muslim, believe in science, education, women’s rights, or don’t agree with their sick, twisted “values”. These people teach hate, intolerance, bigotry. I now have a very, negative view of christianity in this country.

  • gobydoc

    In America you are free to hold any views of others, but not to discriminate against them in the public marketplace on that basis. This really is not that complicated. You can have your hatred, but NOT in public, because THAT infringes on the rights and freedoms of others.

  • jimkeyes

    As a progressive Arizonan living in Non – GOP Pima County the unspoken center of all of this is the Mormon church – they are trying to legislate their views though a disproportion number of legislatures that are LDS friendly… it is never brought up – but if some journalists will investigate the whole right wing extremist arm of the AZ legislature is controlled by yes – the LDS church. They just don’t want to be known and they should be exposed. This is a right wing religious group and should be namde the Morman church – please expose them!

  • ikoihil

    Excuse my ignorance, but is it possible for an individual in the US Senate to veto a bill in a state Senate? I didn’t think that was possible.

  • Bob Smith

    I think you can make the argument that the gay community has become threat to religious groups. At first, they just wanted tolerance. They got it. Now, they’re taking it to the next step by labeling anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle choices as haters, bigots, etc.

  • dexmandark

    This bill, like the recent abortion bill in the House, is just a hunk of red meat thrown to the religious base. These legislatures know it will be vetoed, but they can tell their base, “well, we tried – can’t vote us out for trying” –
    The base is shrinking, along with the amount of wedge issues the GOP can bluster about – these are desperate measures.

  • FreeThinkingVoice

    Some bright entrepreneurial spirit should come to Arizona and market a “gaydar” device to those supporting this bill… you could make a killing on their intolerance!

  • paulginandes

    And what about the legislators of Arizona, each and every one of whom personally pledged to uphold the constitution? This means that religion cannot form the basis for legal code in America. It’s simply not allowed.

  • Paul Deemer

    It’s about time Arizona started showing some common sense. There is a place for Religion it’s called a Church!

  • geebee

    The comparison to Citizens United is apt, but another way to look at it is as a sort of Stand Your Own Faith law, where there is no process or standard governing behavior. A business or individual could just mete out justice however they liked, blatantly discriminating, and then just shrug their shoulders, saying, “I felt threatened.”

  • ex-azresident

    remember, this is the state where you don’t need a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Unless otherwise posted you can bring that gun with you anywhere (church/bar/gas station/grocery store). one of the many reasons I don’t live there anymore.

  • Research Junkie

    I live in AZ and am disgusted this bill even got to her desk. She shouldn’t be lauded for not signing this piece of garbage nor should Flake and McCain be praised for tweeting that they wanted her to veto it. The could’ve killed this thing a long time ago but they are panderers and have lost their souls somewhere. I pity the three of them as well as our embarassing senators who voted for it at all. For shame, Arizona. Do you even remember what that word is?

  • Stuart

    Do Christians think they are above the law? Allowing Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., to discriminate equally is just a smokescreen. Worse, it allows anyone to discriminate against Christians. Ah, the freedom to discriminate. Now that’s progress.

  • Bud Russo

    How is it that the negative attitudes are so easily adopted throughout our country?

  • musician

    People will believe whatever they want to believe, whatever they are told to believe or whatever they are afraid not to believe. Whether it’s true or not is almost irrelevant.

  • musician

    Because they are a part of America they cannot act like paranoid, brain-dead, narrow-minded, fanatical theocratists… that’s why. And the fact that the law is obviously unconstitutional. Hey, Arizona can be as stupid as they want if they are their own country. They aren’t, unfortunately.

  • kcwookie

    This is an attempt to get an anti-gay bill to the SCOTUS. It is the last gasp the conservatives have.

  • Donabean

    Is Hobby Lobby going to heaven or hell? If I work at Hobby Lobby, as the soul of the corporation, is my salvation determined by their actions?

  • kcwookie

    You didn’t miss much, there are other canyons more spectacular that that one. Unfortunately they are in Arizona too.

  • kcwookie

    It doesn’t matter if she signs it or not, the bill made it to her desk. The legislature of Arizona believe this to be the direction the state should take. Those are the facts. Brewer vetoing it doesn’t put the genie back in the bottle or do anything to clear AZ’s name. She should just sign it since it is the will of the citizens who elected the legislatures, everyone already believes what they will about Arizona.

  • musician

    Arizona, Uganda and Putin’s Russia. I rest my case.

  • musician

    Yes. One man’s religion cannot limit the rights of another man to equal protection under the law. It’s pretty clear that this law would be unconstitutional.

  • musician

    These Arizona Cons are becoming, on every level and in every way, the Taliban, The American Taliban. Good God. Can’t they see how sick and dangerous these ideas are? This is so deeply un-American it is mind-blowing. I never thought I’d see this kind of unfettered hatred in my lifetime in this country. We fought wars to stop this kind of sick b$.

  • flyinroom

    It’s stuff like this that gives religion a bad name.

  • John Roman

    Arizona and Uganda!! The twin states of extremist religious bigotry and hatred!!

  • PFLAGmom

    Years ago Wash. state was doing battle over homeschooling laws. Some individuals were claiming that their religion mandated them to homeschool according to the “raise up a child in the way he should go” passage. A few people in other states found that to argue a sincerely held religious belief, you would have to be willing to go to jail rather than choose a different form of schooling. I think it was in Kansas where some individuals actually did go to jail rather than shut down their unapproved school. When that became known here, many religious folks were willing to work toward a compromise, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to prove their belief was strong enough. But we can’t put a corporation in jail. I think if it goes through, allies will have to start going into establishments and saying, “I’m gay, can I be served here?” Start making a list and publicizing it. There are plenty of PFLAG parents who would do this.

  • NotConvinced

    Let the boycotting of Arizona begin again.

  • TsuDhoNimh

    And if Brewer vetos it, will those reservations be kept?

  • Ninong

    If you press the ‘Enter’ key twice in succession, you will create something called a “new paragraph.” Try it sometime.

  • alannah mcgrowdie

    My Uncle Connor got Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
    use this link C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • tamarz

    you’re replying to me? If so — where are you getting this “panic” stuff from?
    Very peculiar.

  • John Larrauri

    Thank you for the correction. I appreciate that.

  • Nat

    It is not in violation of the establishment clause because it is not establishing a specific religion for the state or prohibiting the free exercise of, it is establishing broader protections for religious rights in general not just Christian or Muslim. It is up to the courts to decide if it fits into the category but Ill tell you this will be struck down because of the non-discrimination amendment. It specifically lists a target group and that has been ruled on as unconstitutional by the supreme court..

  • John Larrauri

    Religious based laws like this are, in my opinion, a clear violation of the first amendment which, in part, states: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” So I ask, how can this law be legal?

  • lynchie

    Here in Western Pa. it is the Church of the Upside Down Pierogi

  • lynchie

    Why the personal attack on John. Take your prejudices somewhere else. Continuing to battle about gay rights makes little sense. The gay community is not a threat to religious groups or for that matter to marriage. Get over it.

  • simon tills

    Your unfounded panic is as palpable as it is ridiculous. The law offers a defense. It doesn’t automatically make it a valid defense. It’s still a high hurdle to jump for a court to accept it as such, a very high hurdle.
    You are not well served by fantastic “chicken little” scenarios such as this story peddles. They are fear mongering of the worst ilk, akin to crying “fire” in a crowded theater.
    There is the theoretical, and there is real life.
    If the LBGT community feels that they have the law or lawmakers on their side, then codify prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s not easy, but it would settle the issue once and for all. Mob scenes do not advance agendas, nor do they dispose people to take the issue seriously and thoughtfully. People who would be open to the idea of LGBT rights do not appreciate being maligned, cursed or threatened. Sowing hatred produces new hatred.
    Use the light. Leave the heat at home.

  • simon tills

    The law under discussion does not immunize anyone per se. It allows another defense against lawsuits, but the merits of the defense still have to be proven in court. SCOTUS has already ruled that corporations are individuals under certain applications, such as for campaign law purposes. It’s settled law.
    A defendant can offer any defense that they wish in court. The court will rule if the defense is a valid one under law or not as it applies to the case. The example above about a corporation claiming that their religious beliefs dictate that men must be paid more than women is a red herring, and laughable. No court would allow it to be presented as a valid arguable defense. The same applies to the other ridiculous fictional examples presented above.
    The law gives another avenue of defense. It does not codify discrimination that is illegal under current civil rights laws, state or federal.
    The most well known case of this type was of the Oregon baker who refused to bake a cake that would be part of a ceremony that went against his religious beliefs. The baker did not object to the orientation of the customers, but in being a part, by providing a service whose product would be used to facilitate, however slightly, in a ceremony that furthered what he believed was a practice that ran counter to his religion’s tenets. It may be splitting hairs, but the law splits hairs daily.
    I have news for Mr Aravosis ( sounds like some exotic disease). He puffs and blows about Christians, Christians. Ah, sir, there are more religions that condemn homosexuality. Ever hear of Islam?

  • Anonymous

    Arizona – definitely a contender for the worst US state. I would have liked to see the local wildlife, and I’m not talking about Arizonans (zing)

  • vickif

    I have but I guess never again.

  • 2karmanot

    Church of the Hot Cross Buns.

  • 2karmanot

    If you haven’t seen Irene’s Bird Motel you just haven’t seen Tuscon.

  • Janus303

    The 10th Circuit did not stay its decision. Their rule is law in the Tenth Circuit (of which Arizona is NOT a part, to be clear).

  • MyrddinWilt

    There is actually a big tactical difference. All Hobby Lobby needed was to find one wingnut federal judge to issue an injunction to block the law. So they could go judge shopping.

    In this case the boot is on the other foot and they don’t have that advantage. Any judge who is asked to rule on the law can issue an injunction suspending its effect.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Same place they always did – the bank :)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I dunno. The First Baptist Evangelical Church of Mammon?

  • JoeNCA

    So where do those bakeries go to church exactly?

  • JoeNCA

    Exactly. It’s still illegal for a gay business owner to refuse service to Christians. They just want special rights.

  • JoeNCA

    So where exactly do these businesses go to church?

  • BloggerDave

    Exactly..

  • SFExPat

    And the law would probably be enjoined immediately also.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Personally, I’m shocked and surprised to learn that bakeries have religious affiliations. I don’t ever recall seeing one with a giant crucifix on its sign.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Funny, you seem to think the laws being passed are all about protecting Christians from having to do business with gay people — as if that’s a legitimate and decent thing to want to do — and that it’s limited only to things like cakes.

    Yet you clearly have not read the laws. Moreover, your wall of grammar- and spelling-challenged text is nothing but an attempt to justify bigotry and hate in the name of religion.

    Plus, as Houndentenor says, you really, really suck at analogies.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I quite enjoyed visiting Sedona. No, not because of the fabled ‘energy vortices’, but because it’s just a beautiful area. I was hoping to be able to go back, and also to spend some time hiking in the mountains near Flagstaff.

    But honestly, I crossed Arizona off my tourism list after they passed their ‘Papers Please’ anti-Hispanic law.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Not really, I disagree. It’s two sides of the same coin.

  • slavdude

    Cross yet another state off my list of places to visit.

    And I haven’t ever even seen the Grand Canyon. Sigh….

  • BloggerDave

    However, the SCOTUS has not ruled yet…

  • BloggerDave

    Hobby Lobby and this are two very different cases…

  • BloggerDave

    The DOJ can sue AZ over the law and then the SCOTUS has original jurisdiction and the case can be heard immediately.

  • nicho

    What we need to do is get thousands of gay people from all over to make reservations for vacations, restaurants, etc. all over AZ — preferably in non-chain establishments. Then, if the governor signs this hate legislation, call up, better still write, and cancel the reservations, saying you can’t come if you’re not sure you will be treated equally.

  • 2karmanot

    It’s a wonder ya all didn’t pass out pushing that rant through.

  • nicho

    I’m sorry, but my religion prevents me from hiring people who have been divorced.

  • Janus303

    It just flew in the Tenth Circuit, which covers the entire Mountain West.

  • nicho

    But until it works its way through the courts, a lot of people will be hurt.

  • Janus303

    The court ruled that businesses can discriminate against anyone on the basis of corporate religious freedom. It’s exactly the same legal principle with exactly the same legal outcome, not a completely different one.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    It goes higher than that. These efforts are being coordinated at a national level by the Ethics (sic) and Public Policy Center, a hyper-conservative DC think-tank. They, through their subsidiary, the American Religious Freedom Program, are the ones who provided both the language for these bills and the lobbying.

  • 2karmanot

    Stand Your God Law——

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I once would have said the same thing about a corporation claiming to have beliefs that require it to deny its female employees access to a legal and necessary medication.

    This new angle seems to be working. For now.

  • BloggerDave

    Muslims vs Christians, Christians vs Muslims, Jews vs Muslims, Muslims vs Jews, Christians vs Jews, Jews vs Christians etc… This law is the last gasp of the homophobes and their hatred clouds their judgment…

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Discrimination towards all people. When all you have to do is throw out “my religion…” as a justification, it essentially makes anything justifiable. That isn’t going to fly, no matter how much the Tealiban want to freely oppress.

  • BloggerDave

    Completely different situation. This law is too broad and affects literally everyone. Whatever their intent, it in effect, promotes discrimination not just towards gays but towards all people of different religions.

  • Janus303

    Don’t be so sure. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals just found the birth control requirement unconstitutional under the guise of corporate religious freedom in the Hobby Lobby case, and they didn’t even need a state law to do that.

  • BloggerDave

    It will be found to be unconstitutional. Case closed.

  • tamarz

    This used to be an serious argument used by racists. Don’t see why they couldn’t do it again. They certainly might use it against mixed-race couple.
    I hope anyone who hears about this law realizes that whether or not they care about gay rights, their own rights are being threatened.
    and I wonder how they’re going to apply this if a restaurant refuses to serve someone because he “looks gay.” Maybe they’ll view looking gay as infringing on someone else’s religious liberty?

  • tamarz

    Wouldn’t corporations find this law a little scary since it could be used by people to get out of contracts? Do you have any idea of how likely it is that this law will be thrown out by the courts?

  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arel Harry R. Sohl

    It’s my sincerely held religious belief that they can suck my dick.

  • sfbob

    The irony with this is that that state’s legislative analyst had determined the law wouldn’t cost the state any money. Ha. Ha. Ha.

  • sfbob

    The tried in Maine and failed big-time.

  • Drew2u

    They tried passing the same thing in Kansas, South Dakota, and I forget the 3rd one. It’s all ALEC, the Koch Bros, and it’s all misdirection.

  • nicho

    Well, I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon — and there’s no other reason to go to Arizona. So, cross that off my list. Phoenix and its environs are well worth avoiding. Not much else there.

  • Richard

    The Christian Taliban is hard at work in Arizona.
    If Governor Brewer signs this unconstitutional law she will have likened
    her State to Putin’s Russia. Congratulations Arizonans for the slap in the face to the constitution
    from your legislature. Shame on the State of Arizona.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Oh sorry, seems I got it wrong.

    The bills are drafted by a hate factory called Center for Arizona Policy. The scam seems to be that they raise money from elderly white bigots through direct mail, propose bills that are passed by the AZ senate, challenged in the courts and struck down as unconstitutional.

    So the state is spending millions of dollars each time defending these laws. And you can guess the type of lawyers that get hired by the state to defend them.

    So right motive but seems like the modus operandi was off. Its about raking in the lawyers fees.

  • MyrddinWilt

    That might be hard if the scope of the bill is limited to overriding local ordinances.

    The only chance is that wingnut bills designed to tap the pockets of elderly bigots tend to be badly drafted. Often intentionally. If the bill is struck down they can go get another payout.

    But what might happen is a circuit judge takes the opportunity to attack Citizen’s United. Even if the SCOTUS upholds the law in the end it will be at least three years before it gets there and there might well be changes in the federal law first. It is also possible that Thomas or Scalia is gone from the court by the time it is heard. Scalia is morbidly obese and pushing 80.

  • chris10858

    Due to my sincerely held religious beliefs, I refuse to serve the following groups of people in my restaurant:
    - Gays, Lesbians, and other Sexual Perverts
    - Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists
    - Jews (They killed Christ)
    - Blacks, Mexicans or Other Coloreds (Genesis 11)
    - Women Unaccompanied by a Husband, Brother or Father
    - Pregnant Women Who Aren’t Married
    - No Indians
    - Catholics and Presbyterians
    - Southern Baptists are OK but NO Pentecostals!

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    We can fix that.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    You suck at analogies. The correspondent to the NFL/soccer analogy would be asking the baker to come take pictures of your wedding. We do not allow the NFL to discriminate based on religion or race.

    You must be younger than I am because I remember well people claiming that we had to be segregated because of the Bible. Obviously other people used the Bible to claim that we had to eliminate segregation. The Bible is not a book but a collection of writings spanning hundreds of years. it’s full of internal contradictions. You can find pretty much whatever you want in it if you look hard enough.

    If fundamentalists actually took the Bible literally as they claim, they’d be picketing banks and credit card companies for charging interest which is a sin (multiple citations). But they don’t, because that doesn’t fit in with their world view. I’m sure if you ask a white supremacist to justify their racism with the Bible, they’ll find some verses. it will seem nonsense to the rest of us, but most theology is nonsense to anyone who doesn’t already believe that way.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    No, it can’t survive because the bill allows businesses to discriminate against people of other religions, not just gay people. (The gay part ought to be enough, but the idea that a Pentecostal business owner can refuse service to a Catholic customer is not going to fly.)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I keep hoping (in vain, most likely, but hoping nonetheless) that a case like this will show up the absurdity of the concept that corporations are persons. Actually I’d like to see a DA charge one with a crime. British Petroleum could easily have been charged with negligent homicide a couple of years ago for failure to address safety violations that eventually led to deaths. Absurd? yes, and that’s the point.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Have people noticed how this sort of thing seems to happen rather often in tourism destinations?

    Anyone feel like a nice holiday in gun-nut ridden Florida with their shoot-to-lynch law?

    The tourism industry tends to create an economy dominated by small businesses which tend to be conservative. Then they elect a wingnut government which has no interest in anything other than their own ideology which crashes the tourism trade with some idiot scheme.

    Blackpool in the UK used to be solidly Conservative, one of the safest seats in the north of England. Right up until the Sun ran a story about alleged benefits scroungers living it up in Blackpool on the dole whereupon bills were passed to stop the non-problem which ended up taking a third of the independent hotelier’s business away.

  • Baal

    Your thought processes are those of a mentally ill person. I find it hard to fathom how you come to your conclusions.

  • clarknt67

    Any talk of filing an injunction so the law is stayed pending court resolution of it’s constitutionality?This seems very, very shaky legal ground. It’s hard to imagine it will survive the scrutiny of Federal Court when weighed against the Constitutional principles of separation of Church and State and guarantees of Equal Protection for all citizens. The Romer decision said you can’t make gay people strangers to the law.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I grew up in the South. The “mark of Cain” was used to describe African American skin color. It won’t take long for some business in Arizona to use that phrase as an excuse for racial prejudice.

  • 2patricius2

    The hearing in the AZ house yesterday was revealing. Those supporting the bill kept saying the bill was to protect religious beliefs. When one of the legislators asked a proponent whether he would vote for the bill if it were a vote for equal rights for gays, the proponent said “no.” Another proponent said he was for equal rights, but equal rights for one group were different than equal rights for another. Another legislator said that if the bill became law, counselors and medical personnel could refuse service to gay and transgender people.

    Despite all the claims of the proponents that all they wanted to do was to protect the freedom of religion of those who object to serving certain people, it was clear as crystal that what they really wanted to do was to have the license to refuse service to LGBT people. They wanted to use the excuse of their religious beliefs to deny the rights of LGBT people to services – even vital services such as medical attention. I didn’t hear anyone bring up the question of whether Muslims would be protected if they refused services to Christians. It seemed all the proponents were concerned about was the license for “Christians” to refuse services to those they didn’t like.

    I cannot believe that this bill, if signed into law, will survive in the courts. If it survives the state court, I cannot believe that it will survive federal courts.

  • Moderator3

    If you wish to post the same long, long post twice, change the words and correct your punctuation. This one may stay, the other one is gone.

  • A_nonymoose

    “I’m sorry, but my religion prevents me from serving Negroes . . .”

  • goulo

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/02/19/religious-liberty-or-anti-gay-animus/ has a good take-down of the hypocrisy of these pernicious new gay-bashing bills masquerading as religious freedom.

    > > >

    For me, with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on
    divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in
    the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as
    the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential
    violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally
    verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist
    that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of
    previously divorced people?

    For that matter, why no consideration of those whose religious
    beliefs demand that they not bless marriages outside their own
    faith-community? Do we enshrine the right of, say, an Orthodox Jewish
    hotel-owner to discriminate against unmarried couples who might be
    inter-married across faiths? Do we allow an evangelical to discriminate
    against Mormon couples, because their doctrine about marriage is so
    markedly different from mainstream Christianity’s?

    It seems to me that the acid test for the new bills being prepared by
    the Christianist right with respect to religious freedom and marriage
    is whether they are discriminatory against gays and straights alike.
    Currently, they don’t begin to pass muster on that front.

    < < <

  • http://voenixrising.com/ Mark Alexander

    ESPECIALLY since tourism is Arizona’s #1 commodity.

  • goulo

    “No GAY person ever tried to buy a cake at a christian cake store before.”
    Seriously?
    You seem to erroneously believe that all Christians are anti-gay. Plenty of Christians have no problem with gay people. Plenty of Christians ARE gay.

  • joe

    religion has been here before all. These laws are being misrepresented by people like you. these laws will protect religious organizations and business founded on religion from be forced to do business with people that don’t conform the the intent of the business. Such as christian cakes and wedding cakes made by church people or by a business that is a sideline to a church or affiliation. If you recall the big deal in the news was gay people trying to muscle into a christian cake store and force them to make a gay wedding cake. contrary to what you say, People and business wont be able to simply claim doing business with anyone is against their religion randomly, that is clear. The religion will need a documented fact of not supporting morally the reason that is substantiated in the religious foundation i.e. bible. . Your saying they can refuse black people because they don’t agree with interracial marriage, is nothing but ridiculous ranting of your sick imagination, designed to foster others to believe it and become then angry at the laws by envisioning all sorts of expansion to the use of the laws. Really crazy on your part. . The fact is that is not true and you know it. Religious people have a RIGHT to not be forced to have their strong beliefs infringed on. Just as a NFL football team has a right to not be forced to play soccer, host soccer games or allow soccer players to play on the football team soccer. The laws go both ways. because gay people have had success in getting news law to allow them into things, People who have rights also, now have been forced to obtain laws to not be FORCED to submit to things they don’t believe in. If you owned a GUN shop and the laws were changed to allow sales of GUNS to even children. Would you want to be forced to sell them to them? or have a right to say, I don’t believe in it as moral so no I wont allow it not in my store. .If you own a liquor store and the laws allowed to sell to minors, would you want to be forced to sell to them if you personally felt it was wrong? No GAY person ever tried to buy a cake at a christian cake store before. It was only after the law came to recognize the gay marriage that they then tried to reach deeper into infringing and a gay couple purposefully went to a christian cake store to try to force to use a law to infringe on a religious right to not accept or agree in their establishment. SO if you think it is wrong, then take a soccer ball to the next NFL or NBA game and go out on the field and start playing, see if you can force your game of soccer on them.. she what happens. And that is not even a religious belief that people live by , it is a pass time. So if you cant do that, then why should ANY religion which is a much higher moral obligation on the believers part to uphold, be forced to submit to that which is against their core objective, and not the sport team? while laws protect things like pass time sports, less significant to mankind and life.they should also protect things of great importance to people, religion. . .

  • Guest

    religion has been here before all. These laws are being misrepresented by people like you. these laws will protect religious organizations and business founded on religion from be forced to do business with people that don’t conform the the intent of the business. Such as christian cakes and wedding cakes made by church people or by a business that is a sideline to a church or affiliation. If you recall the big deal in the news was gay people trying to muscle into a christian cake store and force them to make a gay wedding cake. People and business wont be able to simply claim doing business with anyone is against their religion random;y, that is clear. The religion will need a documented fact of not supporting morally the reason that is substantiated in the religious foundation i.e. bible. . Your saying they cant refuse black people because they don’t agree with interracial marriage, is nothing but ridiculous ranting of your sick imagination, designed to foster others to believe it and become angry at the laws. The fact is that is not true and you know it. Religious people have a RIGHT to not be forced to have their strong beliefs infringed on. Just as a NFL football team has a right to not be forced to play soccer, host soccer games or allow soccer players to play on the football team soccer. The laws go both ways. because gay people have had success in getting news law to allow them into things, People who have rights also, now have been forced to obtain laws to not be FORCED to submit to things they don’t believe in. If you owned a GUN shop and the laws were changed to allow sales of GUNS to even children. Would you want to be forced to sell them to them? or have a right to say, I don’t believe in it as moral so no I wont allow it not in my store. .If you own a liquor store and the laws allowed to sell to minors, would you want to be forced to sell to them if you personally felt it was wrong? No GAY person ever tried to buy a cake at a christian cake store before. It was only after the law came to recognize the marriage that they then tried to reach deeper into infringing and a gay couple purposefully went to a christian cake store to now tries to use a law to infringe on a religious right to not accept or agree in their establishment. SO if you think it is wrong, then take a soccer ball to the next NFL or NBA game and go out on the field and start playing. she what happens. And that is not even a religious belief that people live by , it is a passtime. .

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear

    All the bakeries and photographers and caterers that people think are being so horribly put-upon? They aren’t in the business of providing spiritual guidance or enforcing moral doctrines. They are there to turn a profit. As such, they are obligated to abide by prevailing civil rights laws, whether those laws protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.

    Should a restaurant owner be able to refuse service to Blacks because he has “moral objections” to race-mixing? Should an employer be able to fire a Muslim employee because he wants to run “a nice Christian workplace”?

    If they answer to both question is NO, what justification is there refusing service to a Gay couple who wish to get a wedding cake or celebrate their anniversary in a restaurant? Does this bill allow people to use “religious freedom” as a justification for discriminating against ANY customer, or does it simply single out Gay citizens?

    Either way, it’s going to do WONDERS for tourism.

  • Indigo

    Because it takes legislation to enforce hate-veil religionism.

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