Arizona: here we go again

The state of Arizona’s backwards legislature never ceases to amaze. Not content with being at the forefront of anti-immigrant laws, now the legislature has sent a bill for Governor Jan Brewer’s signature that would legalize discrimination under the argument of freedom of religion.

SB 1062 complements an existing law meant to protect from lawsuits businesses that refuse service to customers if they consider it would violate their religious principles.

The measure was mainly created so that Christian business owners can reject gay customers. It would be interesting to know how a business owner will identify a client’s sexual orientation without falling into ridiculous stereotypes—since the bill, of course, does not define this. Plain and simple, this is authorization to discriminate as they please.

Another big issue with the bill is thinking and acting as if Christianity were the only religion in the state, which allows instilling of its values and prejudices into the law. This bill, if enacted, will allow someone, if their religion forbids it, not to take care of an unaccompanied woman or a person of a different race and beliefs.

This argument that private religious principles are more important than established laws is the same that some companies are using to refuse to cover birth control for their employees, as required under the new health care law.

Both cases involve attempts to impose certain personal religious values on individuals that do not share them. This does not belong in a diverse society like America’s.

Several states, like Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee, among others, have similar laws. Brewer must reject this bill that irresponsibly authorizes discrimination based on religious matters.