Today Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, the bill that consists of some rather ambiguously worded changes to an existing statute on religious freedom in Arizona. The bill, whatever was intended by its writers, would have opened the door for discrimination against anyone or anything an individual or business felt was “against their religion.” It wasn’t about the right to practice one’s religion. It wasn’t about allowing others to practice their own religion. It wasn’t about allowing the non-religious not to practice any religion. It was about actively behaving against others whose practices were at odds with the individual/business/organization.
While the bill became known as the “anti-gay” bill, there was actually nothing in the bill itself to indicate that the LGBTQ community was the intended target for “refusal to serve.” However, because gay rights issues have been at the forefront of much activity lately, it was logical to interpret the bill as a doorway to further discrimination against gays. What the news outlets either missed or ignored were the wide-reaching possibilities for discrimination against any number of people or groups of people. In fact, while it seems that those who support this heinous piece of legislation are mostly fundamentalist or conservative Christians, there is something they missed. If SB 1062 had survived, it could backfire against them, as well. When it did, I wonder how fast they would run to the media crying “persecution?”
The good news is, of course, that Ms. Brewer finally vetoed the bill. It seems to me she took an appallingly long time pondering the implications. Nevertheless, she did veto. With that out of the way, we who truly love freedom to worship or not worship however we feel called to do, can breathe easier. I don’t think we can breathe a full sigh of relief, however.
Things are not good in the state of Arizona. In fact, there are a number of places where things are not so good in the area of freedom to live in pursuit of happiness. The very fact that there are seemingly intelligent people who would even come up with such legislation across the country tells me that there is something rotten going on. Something that has been festering is trying to explode. Lady Liberty is not well.
The rights for all people to love who they love, to worship as they feel called to worship, to live where they desire to live…all of these rights are at risk. There is work to be done, and it’s overwhelming to think about what we can do about it all. What can one person do? What can a hundred people do?
This is only one issue that concerns me. For years I’ve been concerned about climate change, sustainability, economic stability for individuals, and domestic violence, to name a few. Over the years, I’ve believed in the adage “think globally, act locally.” I still do. We can affect others by the way we behave. We can effect change, but only if we are consistent in our own behavior. I haven’t always been consistent. My actions haven’t always reflected what is truly important to me. Over the years of my life, I’ve vacillated out of fear. What I was afraid of is a mystery, even to me.
I’ve reached an age at which I can no longer be afraid. If I want to effect positive change in the world, I have to stand on a strong foundation and speak the truth. As the Priest-in-Charge of St. Brigid in the Desert UAC, it is imperative that I know who I am and what I am about. I can tell you this. One thing I am about is the true exercise of religious freedom. It reaches beyond tolerance. It is accepting the pluralist nature of the United States; indeed, of the world. I am about the rights of loved ones to live their lives without fear of violence or discrimination.
Yes, today Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062. Good for her. I think it’s time we vetoed a world in which an SB 1062 would even be drafted. Let those of us who honor God/dess pray for such a world.
Let those who do not experience a divine being work side by side with those who do to create such a world.