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Religious Tolerance logo

"Religious freedom" changing from freedom of
religious beliefs
freedom to hate and discriminate

2014: Part 3:
More information about Arizona Bill SB 1062,
and the new meaning of "religious freedom."
Again: is it really needed?

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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More reactions to the "pro-discrimination" bill SB 1062 by members of the Arizona House, when the bill was voted upon:

  • Rep. David Gowan, (R) said:

    "This bill strengthens against discrimination acts taken by others who want to force someone to do something. We’re strengthening the rights of citizens to believe as they see fit."

    The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution already guarantees that citizens can believe as they see fit. This bill and human rights legislation only deals with people's actions, not their beliefs.

  • Rep. Demion Clinco, (D) is openly gay. He said:

    "To justify discrimination against the LGBT community and others because of religion is an affront to all Arizonans. That’s not the Arizona I want to live in. That’s not the Arizona that the LGBT community wants to live in."

  • Rep. Lisa Otondo, (D) said:

    "I already took a punch in the eye after SB 1070. The last thing I want to be known for in my state is is more discrimination. This bill does further damage to our reputation. It is bad for business."

    SB 1070 was an anti-immigrant bill in 2010 that was so draconian that it remains very controversial even today. 1

  • Rep. Steve Montenegro (R) said:

    "We are trying to protect people’s religious liberties. We don’t want the government coming in and forcing somebody to act against their religious sacred faith beliefs or having to sell out if you are a small-business owner."

    He also explained what his reaction would be if a person planning to marry someone of the same sex approached him, asking him to provide materials (like a wedding cake) or services (like wedding photography) for a same-sex marriage ceremony:

    "Please, I will accept you because you are a child of God, I love you because you are a child of God. But please don’t ask me to go against my religious beliefs."

The "religious liberty" of which he is referring is the religious liberty to discriminate against potential customers. In practice, the law would probably be mostly applied in cases where Christian individuals or Christian-owned companies refuse to provide goods and services to the LGBT community -- typically to a same-sex engaged couple seeking help for their wedding. There have been perhaps a dozen instances where such refusal triggered a complaint to a human rights tribunal in the U.S. in recent years.

However some opponents point out that the bill is so generally worded that it could protect a corporation that refused to hire anyone who wasn't a Christian, or anyone who is not white, etc. With some creative thinking, the bill could help in the defense of almost any action.

  • Rep. Ruben Gallego, (D) said

    "The message that’s interpreted is: 'We want you to work here, but we are not going to go out of our way to protect you, to protect your rights, to protect your family.' God forbid should someone come to the Super Bowl and come to a restaurant that is not going to allow them in."

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Factors of concern to Arizona's sports community:

The 2015 Super Bowl LXIX is currently scheduled to be held in Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium during 2015-FEB. "LXIX" in conventional notation is "69." (L = 50; X = 10; IX = 9)SB. CNN reported that the NFL is monitoring SB 1062 developments in Arizona closely.

The League actually moved the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona to Pasadena, CA, after Arizona voters rejected celebration of Martin Luther King Jr day in 1990-NOV. However, organization of the Super Bowl is a massive undertaking requiring years of advance planning. The general consensus is that there is insufficient time to switch the location of Super Bowl XLIX to a different city.

Laurie Merrill and Peter Corbett, writing for The Arizona Republic said:

"... The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee joined the vocal majority and opposed the religious-rights measure and the NFL said it is against discrimination and is closely watching the bill.

'Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,' said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. 'We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time'." 5

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee issued a statement about SB 1062 on 2014-FEB-24, stating:

"We share the NFL's core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state 's economic growth potential.

We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL's values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX. 6

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Reactions to the "pro-discrimination" bill SB 1062 by other legislators, and by agencies and businesses:

  • Three Republican members of the Arizona Senate -- Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce, and Bob Worsley -- sent a letter to Governor Brewer (R) urging her to veto the bill. All three had earlier voted in favor of the bill. They said:

    "While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm."

    As noted elsewhere in this section, if they had the ability to go back and change their vote, the Senate would have not passed the bill!

  • Both of Arizona's U.S. Senators, John McCain (R) and Jeff Flake (R), asked Governor Brewer to veto the measure. 2

  • U.S. Representatives Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), and Ron Barber (D-AZ), also said they support a veto. 3

  • Cathi Herrord is president of the Center for Arizona Policy -- a conservative group affiliated with the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family. The Center cooperated with the conservative Christian legal defense group Alliance Defending Freedom to write SB 1062. Herrord and her agency still favor the bill. She wrote:

    "Simply put, the fear-mongering from opponents is unrelated to the language of the bill, and proves that hostility towards people of faith is very real.  It’s a shame we even need a bill like this in America. But growing hostility against freedom in our nation, and the increasing use of government to threaten and punish its own citizens, has made it necessary." 4

    She also wrote:

    "The attacks on SB 1062 ... represent precisely why so many people are sick of the modern political debate. Instead of having an honest discussion about the true meaning of religious liberty, opponents of the bill have hijacked this discussion through lies, personal attacks, and irresponsible reporting.

    "Our elected leaders have a fundamental duty to protect the religious freedom of every Arizonan, and that's what SB 1062 is all about." 2

She appears to be using the new meaning of "religious freedom" to mean the freedom to discriminate against, denigrate, and oppose the freedom of sexual minorities. 4

  • Brent DeRaad, and J. Felipe Garcia are senior officers of Visit Tucson, the tourism bureau of the city of Tucson, AZ, They issued a statement saying:
  • "A bill like this will potentially lead to discrimination and could result in groups being discouraged in conducting business in Arizona. Specifically we are concerned about, again, running the risk of organizations, individuals and businesses deciding not to visit or meet in Arizona." 5

  • On the afternoon of FEB-25, Michelangelo Signorile, mentioned during his radio show on the Progress channel 127 of SiriusXM satellite radio that 83 companies in Arizona have gone on record as opposing this bill. They include Apple Inc., American Airlines Group Inc., and "IO" a software company.

    Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, expressed concerned that the state -- which has only recently begun to see its economy improve from the recession -- might see that advance falter. He said:

    "There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far. Wholly apart from the stated intent of this legislation, the reality is that it has the very real potential of slowing down the momentum we have achieved, by reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona and depressing the travel and tourism component of the economy if both convention traffic and individual tourists decide to go elsewhere." 2

  • Mitt Romney (R), former governor of Massachusetts and presidential nominee also called on Governor Brewer to veto the bill. He tweeted:

    ".@GovBrewer: veto of #SB1062 is right." 7

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Bill SB 1062 passed the House and Senate, and is on the Governor's desk:

As is normal for this type of bill, the two parties took opposite positions: The House vote was held on FEB-20; it was 33 to 27 in favor of passage. House Democrats all voted against the bill and Republicans mostly voted in favor. Only three House Republicans opposed it.

The Senate passed the bill on FEB-20 on a pure party-line vote: 17 Republicans in favor and 13 Democrats opposed. If the three Republican Senators who wrote to Governor Brewer asking her to veto the bill had voted against the bill, then the bill would have died in the Senate.

The bill has been sent to the desk of Governor Jan Brewer (R). She has three options: to sign it into law or veto it on or before FEB-28 or MAR-01 (sources differ), or to ignore it and let it become law automatically. Because of the massive opposition forming against the bill, there is a growing belief that she will chose to veto it. She may wait until the last day to make up her mind.

There is a general consensus among political liberals, religious liberals, and the LGBT community that, if SB 1062 becomes law, it will not be able to survive a constitutional challenge in the courts.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.\

  1. "Arizona's SB 1010," American Civil Liberties Union, undated, at:
  2. "McCain, Flake Urge Brewer to Veto Discrimination Law," Newsmax, 2014-FEB-24, at:
  3. Zack Ford, "Conservative Lawmakers And Arizona Businesses Urge Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Bill ," Think Progress, 2014-FEB-24, at:
  4. Sarah Posner, "State Senators to Arizona Governor: Please Veto the Bill We Voted For," Religion Dispatches, 2014-FEB-24, at:
  5. Laurie Merrill and Peter Corbett, "Arizona worried legislation could cost state Super Bowl XLIX," USA Today, 2014-FEB-25, at:
  6. "Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee statement on SB 1062,"
  7. Jim Acosta, "Romney weighs in, Obama silent on Arizona SB1062," CNN, 2014-FEB-25, at:

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2014-FEB-21
Latest update: 2014-FEB-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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