Opinion

Bill to protects religious freedom of business owners stirs controversy

As civil complaints target Christian business owners nationwide for declining to service gay marriages because of their religious beliefs, a bill to protect the freedom of religion is moving forward in Arizona.

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Photo: Patheos.com

Republican state Sen. Steve Yarbrough, who sponsored the bill, told the Camp Verde Bugle the bill is designed to prevent a recurrence of a case last year in New Mexico in which the state Supreme Court ruled against a Christian couple who owned a photography business and were sued because they had declined to photograph a lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.

In the case, which has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled  that surrendering religious beliefs in order to do business is “the price of citizenship” – at least in New Mexico.

Yarbrough thinks that’s too much to demand.

His bill which is still in the committee stage, would allow religious beliefs as a defense in civil lawsuits like the New Mexico wedding photography case.

The usual opponents are saying the usual things – an American Civil Liberties Union attorney told the newspaper his group is against Yarbrough’s bill because it could open the door for businesses to discriminate based on “religion, gender, marital status, national origin and sexual orientation.”

The problem for libs – including the ACLU, which sided against the photographer in New Mexico  – is they really don’t have a principle they work with, other than the favored liberal cause of the moment.

The ACLU sided against the photographer in the News Mexico case because, according to the New York Times, gay rights are more important than the First Amendment rights of a commercial photographer. In other words, some rights are more important than others because the ACLU, the Obama administration, the New York Times or some idiot loquacious judge on the New Mexico Supreme Court decided giving up rights is part of the “price of citizenship.”

When that happens, there is lawlessness. And when there is lawlessness, lawmakers like Yarbrough come forward with other ideas. His bill, he said, simply protects freedom.

“Prohibited discrimination remains prohibited,” he told the Arizona Republic. “In no way does this bill allow discrimination of any kind.”

The Arizona bill is likely to pass this year – a nearly identical bill passed last year but was vetoed for procedural reasons by Gov. Jan Brewer.

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