It's Arizona Time Again

« February 2014 »


Arizona's a pretty amazing place. As dumbass states go, it doesn't have the consistency of a Tennessee, the stubbornness of an Oklahoma, or the madness of a Florida. What they do have is the uncanny ability to just piss you off with their stupidity.

Joe Arpaio? That shit's pure Arizona. John McCain? Arizona. Arizona's got the social conservatism of the South, the gun fanaticism of the West, and the anti-immigrant fervor of the Southwest, all in a combination guaranteed to spark national outrage every three to four months.

Their latest foray into stupidity is a bill, currently awaiting a signature or veto from occasional ruiner-of-everything Jan Brewer is a bill that would allow deeply religious people to cite their deeply-religiousness if they get sued for refusing service to gay people.

Now, this bill raises a shitload of questions, but one I haven't seen anywhere is this. The bill essentially makes it OK to refuse service to gay people if you have a deeply religious objection to homosexuality, but that means that if your objection isn't deeply religious, the discrimination is still wrong. Which seems odd to me.

I'm trying to think of something else that would normally be illegal, but is somehow not illegal if you do it because of your religion. The only thing I can think of is not volunteering for the draft, which isn't even really operative anymore. And while this is also true in practice for child molestation, it's not actually true as a legal principle.

The other thing that raises the hairs on the back of my neck is the insistence from the proponents of the measure that it's no big deal, and that it's just reinforcing existing protections, so just let it go into law and don't worry your pretty little heads about it.

“We are clarifying the protection we thought existed. We’re not saying you have carte blanche to do whatever you want.” - Josh Kredit, lawyer from one of the groups that helped draft the legislation and, perhaps not coincidentally, the lawyer with the least trustworthy name since Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.

Nobody goes to the trouble of passing a vaguely-worded law of dubious constitutional value in order to clarify anything. You do it so you can get away with shit. Supporters of the bill cite a New Mexico wedding photographer who got in trouble for refusing to photograph a gay wedding, Which I'm sure sounds sympathetic if you're a bigot, but just sounds like a dick move to me.

He photographs weddings. This was a wedding. He turned them down because of who they were as human beings. That's illegal. He got sued. The system works. Arizona's rainbow coalition of bigots may not like it, but there's no way, in the long run, they're going to get away with fixing it. And, depending on whether Jan Brewer listens to the people with the money or the people with Jesus, not in the short term either.