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Arizona Republicans attempt to legalize discrimination

Marriage equality protesters in Washington D.C.
Marriage equality protesters in Washington D.C.
By Timothy Vollmer [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kansas' discriminatory bill got a beat-down in the national press that ultimately brought the Senate Republicans there to kill it before it hurt the Republican brand in the lead up to this November's elections. Republicans in Arizona must not have gotten the memo because their state senate just passed Senate Bill 1062 which attempts to guarantee people the right to discriminate based on religious observances.

Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar released the following statement about the bill:

"SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."

The big problems with this bill are the definitions. They manipulate the language to make it seem as though they are protecting religious freedom. Exercise of religion is redefined as "the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief." Combine that with the "expanded" definition of person "to include any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church or other business organization."

As the Senate Democratic Caucus very succinctly put it on their blog, "Arizona does not need this bill, Arizonans do not want this bill and there is no place for this bill in our modern society. We have come too far to turn back the clock with such a disgraceful assault on members of our community based on their sexual orientation."