Monday, February 24, 2014

Legalize pot, polygamy, and animal sacrifice

Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin has an analysis of the text of the permission to discriminate bill passed in Arizona. The bill couldn't directly mention gay people or discrimination because those would be immediate red flags for any court. That's because in the mid 1990s Colorado approved a sweeping anti-gay amendment and the Supremes shot it down. To get around that problem Arizona made the bill more general, allowing any religious group to disobey any law that is contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Burroway explores the extremes of that argument. A Muslim landlord could refuse to rent to a single woman. A Muslim homeowner could refuse to pay interest on his mortgage. A divorced Muslim could refuse to pay alimony. That means this bill would legalize Sharia law in Arizona. Commenter Jim adds:
What Arizona has done is (1) legalized pot, for Rastafarians and anyone who wants to claim to be one; (2) legalized polygamy, for Muslims, fundamentalist Mormons and traditional African religions; (3) legalized animal sacrifice, for practitioners of Santaria, Voodoo, Satanism, etc.; (4) given everyone days off work for religious holidays (employers cannot force employees to work Sundays if they claim to be Christians).
Commenter Ben in Oakland wrote that he would like to see businesses display signs:
We are members of the (__________) faith. We reserve the right to refuse to provide goods or services to anyone because of their sexual orientation or religious beliefs, whether real or perceived.
Gay people and their allies would then know to avoid that business. Alas, it has been tried already -- in the Jim Crow laws.

Rob Tisinai, also of Box Turtle Bulletin, gives his take what this bill might imply. He summarizes it all to a few simple points:
• The bill expands the definition of “person” to include, well, anything.

• The bill expands the notion of religion to include things that are not compulsory, central, or possibly even part of your religion — in other words, just about anything.

• The exceedingly subjective interpretation of “substantial burden” can include things that do not seem reasonable, sound, or consistent in a court of law; the tautological definition of “substantial burden” can include just about anything, given the wording of this bill.

• The mandated standard of strict scrutiny can strike down, well, not anything, but a huge and not entirely predictable chunk of the state’s laws.
Emphasis in the original. All that means this bill would come close to trashing the rest of Arizona's system of laws. Arizona could become a lawless place (as in worse than now).

I've been referring this mess as a bill. That's because the governor hasn't signed it yet. There is, of course, an effort to convince her not to from the business community and from both Arizona senators. And then there is the case of three state senators with voter's remorse urging the gov. to veto a bill they voted for. If those three had voted against it would have been a 30-30 tie.

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