Discrimination is wrong. You can’t tell someone “no” just because of their race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation. I know because I feel it in my gut. But the letter of the law doesn’t work that way. It’s a good thing, too, since there are still some people that “know” (read: think it’s icky) in their gut that homosexuality in itself is wrong.
Down here in dear old Arizona, our state legislature is trying to give some official backing to the “icky” crowd to say no based on their religious beliefs. Think about that for a second: these people not only want to be legally protected from hearing “no” because of their religion, but they want legal approval to say “no” based on their religious beliefs. But I digress…
According to the U.S. Constitution, this bill would not be a sound law. Governor Jan Brewer should veto this bill or we will be sued yet again by the federal government. Why? It’s simple, really. I’m glad you asked.
Now, take all arguments regarding business practice and right to refuse service out of the equation. Next, take the Civil Rights Act out of the equation. Yes, that law makes it illegal to discriminate, but only on the grounds of race, color, gender, or national origin. It doesn’t say anything about sexual orientation. SB 1062 is made invalid because it is making a law on BEHALF of a religion. Specifically, it is make a law on behalf of the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The U.S. Constitution, by virtue of the First Amendment, specifically prohibits the creation of any such law. The First Amendment reads as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Thomas Jefferson specifically stated that this was included to prevent the establishment of any state-run church (like the Church of England) and to have a complete separation of church and state. We have freedom to practice any religion we like but not the right to impose that on others, especially not through the power of law. Furthermore, no one is being prevented from practicing their religion by doing business with gays and lesbians. No gay or lesbian individual is forcing anyone into being in an illicit homosexual relationship just by buying flowers. Just like selling a wedding cake to a divorcee looking to re-marry isn’t, in fact, engaging in adulterous relationship.
This spirit of the law was further validated by the 1947 Supreme Court case Everson v. Board of Education. Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority, said “[t]he ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another.”
That’s exactly what SB 1062 was designed to do. According to our own Constitution, SB 1062 cannot and will not stand as a law.