Arizona’s Pro-Discrimination Law Won’t Stop With Gays

24 February 2014
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

February 24, 2014

If the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature has its way, gays could be thrown out of bars, restaurants, and hotels across the state.

Last week it passed a bill that would permit businesses to deny services to any person if doing so would substantially burden the business owners “exercise of religion.”  Why? Because the Bible condemns such homosexual unions. In essence, this measure would legally sanction discrimination against gay Americans by masquerading as a defense of religious freedom.

When I first read about this proposed law, my reaction was probably the same as many others: Are you f#@#ing kidding me?!  But they’re not. And even scarier is that Arizona isn’t the only state where Republicans are trying to to turn the Bible into the basis for American law. The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives passed a similar bill two weeks ago, while Idaho and Utah have considered similar measures. 

For a moment, imagine you’re part of a same-sex couple at a restaurant in Arizona after this law went into effect. The owner walks up to you, and in front of other customers, announces that you and your partner will not be served simply because you’re gay. I can’t even imagine the embarrassment and frustration that would cause.  And the worst part is the owner would be legally protected to do just that.

Let’s put side the legal challenges to this bill for a moment—and there will be many. I have some practical questions about exactly how this law would work. So, here are a few:

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