By: Hashim Arain
There was controversy swirling around this past week in Arizona, where a bill would allow Arizona businesses to deny service to customers who were gay or lesbian. According to CNN, this bill would’ve allowed businesses not to serve or employ gays and lesbians based on the grounds of protecting the employer’s religious freedom in the state of Arizona. This bill created national controversy over what it will do if it got signed into law. CNN notes that there was tremendous pressure on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill, which she did last Wednesday.
There was split opposition among Republicans nationally on whether this bill was constitutional or not. According to the New York Times, some Republican insiders and consultants expressed their opinions that this bill will not look good for the GOP nationally if it were to be a law of Arizona. This just shows the widespread opposition that a lot of people who are influential in the GOP had.
Some say that this bill deliberately targeted gay and lesbians, when in actuality there have been some who’ve said that there’s no example of any religious freedoms that are being attacked. According to the Washington Post, this bill is an extension of Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects people’s religious beliefs. The Post also reports that a example of this in other states was when a baker in Oregon refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, to which he claimed it interfered with his religious beliefs.
This is just an example of what this bill will do, if it were enacted into law. People could claim a violation of this act if they serve someone that doesn’t fit their religious beliefs. That’s why most have called this bill discriminatory. The other side of this debate has a fair point when it comes to their views I think. What if a privately owned business, whose owners may be very religious didn’t want to hire a gay person to work for them because of their beliefs?
What if these owners were good hardworking people, and with them being a privately owned business, shouldn’t they have the right to decide who to hire or not? This is a question I’ve been trying to wrestle with ever since the news of the Arizona bill. I’m glad that the bill was vetoed, because there seemed to be no past or present example of any Arizonan’s religious freedom being harmed. I understand both sides of this issue, but I just think that this bill was a little too extreme.
I do believe though, that if a small business doesn’t want to hire a gay person based on their religious upbringing, then they have the right to make that decision, how controversial that decision may be. I do also believe that if they deny a gay person the right to work, it’s a form of discrimination. I think the conversation that this bill started is a slippery slope, both sides have some fair points for their views. I don’t believe that this bill would’ve made the conversation surrounding this any better. I’m glad that Governor Brewer did the right thing and vetoed this bill.