The Arizona legislature sent a bill to the Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk Thursday that would carve a massive hole into state law allowing business owners to turn away gay and lesbian customers, employers to deny equal pay to women, or individuals to renege on contract obligations–as long as they claim to be doing so in the name of religion.
Brewer, a Republican who vetoed similar legislation last year, has not said whether she will sign the bill.
“With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” Anna Tovar, the state senate Democratic minority leader, said in a statement Wednesday after the bill cleared the state Senate. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”
The Arizona bill is one of several bills across the country aimed at providing legal protection to those who wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. As of Friday, however, it’s the only one to actually pass, with similar bills in Idaho, Tennessee, and South Dakota being defeated and a bill in Kansas being held up in the state Senate.
While the bills vary in scope, Arizona’s is among the most broad, expanding that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to make it easier for individuals and for-profit businesses to bypass neutral state laws or regulations as long as religion is the reason for doing so…
I presume by now the Arizona legislature includes a line item in the state budget for “funds to be wasted defending unconstitutional laws which make bigots feel happy about who they elected”.