Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Veto of Arizona's SB 1062

The Veto of Arizona’s SB 1062

Yesterday, the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, vetoed SB 1062, a bill which would have allowed business owners to deny services to people based on their own deeply held religious convictions.  The bill sparked passionate reaction on both sides.

Proponents of the bill said that it is necessary to protect religious liberty, while opponents said it would have enshrined prejudice against homosexual people in law.  Republicans across the country, of course, were terrified of the bill, and urging a veto.  Many organizations were vocal in opposition, including some loud groups whose favorite political tactic is intimidation.  However, a bill of this magnitude should not be weighed by political calculations, but rather by moral ones.

I haven’t looked closely enough at how the bill is written to know whether it warranted a signature or a veto, but it seems to me that the underlying issue at hand is really not all that complicated.

The Church consistently teaches the dignity of every human person (regardless of sexual practice), and opposes unjust discrimination.  However, it also teaches that homosexual behavior is objectively sinful, and that there is no such thing as gay “marriage.”  Any proper understanding of religious liberty should free people from having to participate in or support activity they find morally objectionable.

Therefore, given our current climate, there is definitely a need for a law that protects people from providing goods and services that support or promote such activity, such as a wedding photographer being forced to work at a same-sex “wedding.” 

However, a person is not defined by his sexual identity, and it seems to me that discrimination that has no bearing on that activity should not be permitted.

Now, one of the most difficult things to do is to take politicians at their word.  Many are corrupt and easily bought.  Even many ethical politicians see lying, or at least “spin,” as a necessary tool of the trade.  However, though I do not live in Arizona and scrutinize Governor Brewer, she has not given me reason to doubt her sincerity.  So it is with every benefit of the doubt that I examine some of what she said upon announcing her veto.

There were two comments that particularly struck me.  (Others, of course, are relevant, as well, from a political and legal standpoint, and have been analyzed by others.)  The first comment of which I took note was her statement that the bill was too broadly written.  That very well may be true.  If so, it should be rewritten and passed again, with improvements.  I would have liked to see Ms. Brewer call for that.

The second statement was troubling.  Ms. Brewer seemed to imply that the protections in the bill are not necessary.  That sentiment is ludicrous.  Given our current climate, nothing is more necessary at this time, in every state.  The red herring of “gay rights” is a powerful tool being used to persecute Christians (and many others) all over the Western world.  Doubtless, there are many who see it as the key to destroying the Church.  They will never do that, but people willing to stand up for truth had better be ready to suffer for it.

On a human level, what happened yesterday is likely to scare most politicians.  But I pray that there are some heroic leaders out there who will see the grave necessity of a bill similar to SB 1062.  It needs to be written properly, respecting each person’s dignity, but it needs to be passed now, everywhere.