Arizona Briefly Dabbles in Reason. Very Briefly.
On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062. The bill had gained wide opposition on both sides of the political spectrum for its pre-Civil Rights Act policy, which allowed businesses to turn down service to homosexuals. The only difference between then and now is that instead of just open racism, this bill would be “defending” the religious freedom of the business owners.
I wanted to wait writing anything about this veto because I had a feeling that whatever would happen after Brewer vetoed the bill would be much more entertaining. I would like to thank the Republican Party for not letting me down.
A House Bill, HB 2481, will allow pastors and ministers in churches to deny marriages to gay couples and prevent the big, mean government bureaucracy from forcing said preachers to perform those services.
To one not well versed in the complexities of the Constitution, this law may appear to be a positive law to have. It would prevent the government from imposing its will over a religious group. I, however, would call it ridiculous.
The bill is ridiculous for two reasons. The first reason is that we do not need any such prevention because we already have the first amendment. This is why the “problem” of forcing preachers to marry gay couples DOES NOT EXIST! There has not been, to the best of my knowledge, any case where a government law has said that churches must wed gay couples. This is probably because churches are not the only place that any couple can get married. It’s kind of what happens when you create a separation of church and state.
This brings me to the second reason this, and the SB 1062, are outrageous. Passing either of these laws would effectively contradict the first amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” While neither of these bills would establish a national religion, the bills are clearly trying to set up a law based on the beliefs of some Christians. I say “some” because not all of the followers of that one religion think it that the LGBT community should be discriminated against.
All of this is only compounded by the fact that it just adds to this feeling that the republicans in Arizona might not know how the constitution works. I don’t mean a difference of opinion on interpretation, but a rudimentary failure at comprehending the core concept.
Not only did they try to pass a law that walks a fine line over being unconstitutional for religious reasons, but it also seems to make a state’s law more powerful than federal. I realize that we all, to some degree or another, hold a fear that the federal government may already have too much power, or someday they will. However, at the same time, you cannot give a state more power than the federal. It stops being a state at that point and becomes a sovereign nation.
Finally, I just want to end with this one final thought. It’s a quote that I found long ago from the spoken word album, “Talk is Cheap Volume 1” by the legendary Henry Rollins.
“Don’t hide behind the Constitution or the Bible. If you’re against gay marriage, just be honest, put a scarlet ‘H’ on your shirt, and say, ‘I am a homophobe!”
Questions, comments, and what have you directed to: email@example.com