Approximately 10,000 athletes came to 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to compete, athlete against athlete. In doing so, we read of no physical fights, no reported athlete-to-athlete racism or outward hatred. In fact, outside of the former band “Pussy Riot” and a few others, little disparagement noted.
This does not mean Putin is a wonderful human being, for he isn’t. And this doesn’t mean Russia’s overall position against and gay lesbian members of the community can be legitimized, for it doesn’t. It simply means that in this world, there is a significant capability for the world’s global body to come together, harmonize, live and enjoy one another.
Contrast that with Arizona where the legislative body seemingly came together and forged legislative bill SB 1062, making it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbians on the grounds of promoting religious freedom. Reflecting upon SB 1062, I’m struck by several things:
- First, some congressman actually thought of this idea;
- Second, Arizona’s high-priced talent actually thought this was an idea of great worth to society; and
- Third, it’s taken Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a long time to deny the bill’s merits.
In spite of Arizona’s pressing needs, legislative proponents say the bill protects religious liberty. Basically, extremely conservative members of Arizona’s congressional caucus believe this form of legalized racism is good for Arizona businesses. Lacking hindsight, the return on investment for SB 1062 is significantly diminished when one ponders the counterarguments and issues raised by such legislation.
Let’s sample some legal issues. If SB 1062 is signed into law:
- Can gay and lesbian business owners deny service to a Catholic, Protestant, or any other member of faith? Or is the law only valid for Christian business owners denying service toward members of other faiths or social class?
- Can a Catholic business owner deny services to members of the Protestant faith?
- Can a conservative Christian bus driver deny entry to Muslim onto a city bus?
- Is it legally justifiable for religiously affiliated hospitals to deny emergency healthcare on the basis of faith? Can a member of faith deny a pregnant woman out-of-wedlock any type of medical service? Can I deny someone welfare services and benefits based upon faith or any other social position?
- Can I deny a mortgage application to someone of another faith on the basis of faith?
- Can Arizona prosecute an Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jews or any member of another faith differently? Can we hold them to different standard because of their faith?
- As a Christian grocer, can I deny members of other faiths the ability to buy food for their family?
- Is there a difference between a Christian owner’s dog and Muslim owner’s dog? Or can I just shoot the Muslim owner’s dog on the basis of faith alone?
- Can I rape and intimidate a female coworker because she’s Taoist?
- Could a Muslim gas station owner who believes women shouldn’t allowed to drive alone refuse to sell gas to a woman driver?
- Could a Muslim refuse to work with women or women who didn’t wear a burka?
- Could a Jewish short order cook sue his employer for forcing him to cook bacon?
- As Christian business owner, would I be able to pay a non-Christian Mexican immigrant less than a Christian Mexican Immigrant?
- I can legally deny service to a gay man, but is it ok to serve a former child rapist? Rapist? Drug dealer? Murderer? Wife beater?
The list goes on and on.
In reality, in most of Arizona, and most states in the U.S., businesses don’t need a license to discriminate against gays: It’s already legal. If you reside outside of Tucson, Phoenix or Flagstaff, there is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination, and most states lack laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unlike race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, and other such classes, sexual orientation is not covered in the federal anti-discrimination law. The only thing this legislation would do is confirm Arizona is a nut case and opens up a Pandora’s Box of questions resulting in a flood of litigation against business owners from those willing to test the limits.
The broader question resides within our minds. If we have already allowed a habit to form in our thought, then the thought lives and it becomes extremely difficult to change the path of our thoughts. The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
Should Governor Jan Brewer sign SB 1062 into law, would we really be any different from Russian President Vladimir Putin or Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni?
Late Update: Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday vetoed SB 1062. “My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona,” Brewer said at a news conference. “I call them like I seem them despite the tears or the boos from the crowd.“