Considering Arizona LGBT Bill

All over my news feed is discussion about Arizona’s LGBT legislation. This legislation would let business owners use religious beliefs to refuse serving an LGBT individual.

Supporters of this bill claim that refusing service is religious freedom. Critics say it is legalizing discrimination. What’s in the middle of religious freedom and discrimination?

My first question was regarding signs I often see outside of businesses that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” What makes Arizona’s legislation necessary if business owners can refuse service? The Federal Civil Rights Act does. explains that it “guarantees all people the right to ‘full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.'”

Basically, a business owner can refuse service for arbitrary reasons, but refusing service based on a customer’s identity is illegal. A flower shop owner or baker cannot simply refuse an order for a wedding based on the sexual orientation of the couple. Arizona’s bill, that passed the legislature and is waiting Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature or veto, would allow a business to use religion as a reason to refuse service.

Outside of Arizona, there is vocal opposition against the law. The tech company Apple, which was planning to build a sapphire glass plant in the state, urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill claiming it could seriously damage the economy. American Airlines and Marriot hotels also came out in opposition of the bill. The Super Bowl, which is supposed to take place in Arizona next year, may be in jeopardy. Now, leaders of the national GOP are urging Gov. Brewer to veto.

I think my Senator, Orrin Hatch’s confused comment in a Politico argument about the GOP shows how confusing the issue is:

“This is one of the societal issues that has to be resolved. I do believe states should be able to decide things for themselves, I do believe that that’s the constitutional way of handling these matters. And the states that want to go a certain way have a right to do so.”

But, Hatch added: “I don’t think we should have discrimination anyway. On the other hand, I think there’s a legitimate question raised about whether businesses have to conform to certain moral standards they disagree with. I think it’s a real important pivotal issue, and I don’t know how to resolve it, honestly.”

The question is whether baking a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding is making the owner “conform to a certain moral standard they disagree with.” Standing up for beliefs is often an important part of a person’s religious experience. I can understand how participating in that ceremony may make a religious person feel as though they are forced to support something they find morally objectionable.

I found it interesting that Marriot opposed the bill since JW Marriot, Jr., Chairman of the Board, is Mormon. Marriot’s religion does not support gay marriage, but his hotels are still open to gay people, as well as plenty of other people who practice a whole myriad of objectionable acts in the eyes of the LDS church.

For example, does allowing unmarried couples reserve rooms mean Marriot supports pre-marital sex?

There’s never been a reason to think that businesses can control their customers’ identities and behaviors. If you want to open a business, you open it up for everyone in the area and hope they come and spend their money.

There needs to be an understanding that just because you own a business that sometimes serves people who don’t believe the same things you do, does not mean you support every action of a customer’s. I think once that is understood, the discomfort and objection will disappear.


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