What do you think will happen with Arizona's "religious freedom" bill?

It doesn’t really matter whether she signs it or not - even if she does (although I’m betting she won’t) the Supreme Court is guaranteed to strike it down. What could possibly happen is that, once they’ve caught the Court’s interest, Arizona could end up being more LGBT friendly than they started as, similar to Utah.

It’s posturing for the Mid-Term elections, trying to fire up the base, and not intended to succeed.

Is it possible that if it passes and after it goes to the supremes, the supremes make such a wide ranging decision when they knock it down that it generally becomes a Federal law against discrimination against LGBT people? IANAL, there’s certainly a much better way to phrase that.

What’s the difference? Nobody can sue for discrimination based on sexual orientation for any reason, since it’s not illegal.

I don’t get this bill. It seems purely symbolic. It’s already perfectly legal to discrimination against gays in Arizona, and there’s no federal law against it.

I doubt the police can deny equal protection of the law that way though, even if a police department went so far as to allow this.

Only if a school allows him/her to.

Ah, a private business. What’s stopping doctors from refusing to treat gay patients now? There’s no law against it, state or federal. Which is both a wakeup call and evidence that this bill is just for show.

The only thing missing is changing the terminology so it doesn’t sound like gays are getting special treatment, e.g. saying “sexual orientation is not a protected classification” instead. But that’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Geez… are these right-to-discriminate laws popping up in several states more of those annoying ALEC model bills?

Right. I believe a majority of the states have the provision that when the legislature is in session, the governor may just allow the bill to become law by tacit assent, and a veto must be explicit; while if the legislature has adjourned, then it becomes reversed and if the governor ignores it there’s a “pocket veto”.

My concern, and someone please clarify if this c/would or c/would not happen under this law:
[li]National HQ of an organization decides their enterprise will be gay-friendly.[/li][li]Arizonan branch/franchise manager wants to discriminate and claims religious objection.[/li][li]Now it’s that manager who will be protected from being canned or having the franchise withdrawn because HE is “exercising his religious freedom”.[/li][/ul]

The law itself, sure, is mostly to score points with the reactionary wing, telling people: we are making it so it is not only “not illegal” but YOU are the wronged party if someone tries to make cater to the gays.
I agree with OldGuy that gay rights aside, if indeed there is no legal impediment, then why should the alleged motivation “I do this in accordance to my religious beliefs” keep you off the hook any better than “Hey, there’s no law forbidding me from doing this”?


If so, it’s hilarous - protection against discrimination against bigots.

Is the law written such that a Pastafarian could be protected for refusing service to Christians?

Are there any Pastafarians who “sincerely” hold their religious beliefs? If so, and they could convince a judge (possibly jury) of such, then yes.

No, it only protects religious freedom, and as we all know, only Protestant Christianity count as actually being a religion. Well, OK, maybe we don’t all know that, but I’ll be the legislators involved do.

Yes but federally religion is a protected class so the two laws are in conflict.

This law has a very short shelf life. It is pretty much doomed once it hits a federal appeals court. It serves it purpose of allowing elected officials to appeal to a bigoted base when the seek reelection. The harm it may case businesses and people in the short term is secondary.

Reading the bill, I’m not sure how that’s going to happen. The definition of unreasonable burden is almost certainly going to exclude your first example and probably your second. I suppose, your third example is plausible assuming that there is some legal requirement to treat gay patients.

Why are we so certain that this bill would fail a legal challenge? Doesn’t it just basically turn the state RFRA into an affirmative defense?

No, it makes the RFRA a cognizable defense even when the government isn’t a party. But it also doesn’t limit itself; based on the text of the law, anyone can invoke it for basically any reason.

Phoenix, Tucson, and possibly other cities in Arizona, have their own discrimination ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

This state law would provide a defense against actions brought by the governments of Phoenix or Tucson under their ordinances. Thus, it removes protection from discrimination from Arizonans that currently enjoy it.

Ah. Thanks! Finally got an explanation.

I don’t know what you mean by “invoke it for basically any reason” (unless you mean that it’s broader than “anti-gay,” which it clearly is). You still have the so-called “unreasonable burden” balancing (so, for example, it would be implausible to suggest that if I sued Officer Muhammad for refusing to help me becuase I am an infidel, he would be able to claim protection since the balancing works towards requiring police officers to help all comers). And, of course, it woudn’t apply in the context of a 1983 suit becuase it’s a state law (right? It’s been a few years since I took that class.). Unless I’m missing something (which is entirely possible), it just means that if the state government creates a private right of action for discrimination (or brings the suit itself), the defendant can claim religiously motivated discrimination and win. That doesn’t strike me as a particularly wise law, but I don’t understand the “guarantee” of a reversal by the courts.

I forgot to mention that it also broadens the definition of a person to include just about any type of organization - which again raises the hoary old chestnut of businesses holding beliefs. But you’re also reading in a requirement that isn’t there. The bill only mentions unreasonable burdens with regard to private property. The religious infringement need only be substantial:

You’re right, insofar as I had read “unreasonable burden” to be defined as a “burden that wasn’t least restrictive, etc.” Bad reading on my part.

It does expand the definition from “religious assembly or institution” (presumably “‘person’ includes” presupposes that it also covers an individual) to a much broader category of organizations.

I have a certain amount of discomfort about organizations having beliefs (or discriminatory motives), but I can accept that. Certainly, I don’t know why the “institution” has a belief but the “foundation” doesn’t.

Other than the fact that this bill is motivated by a series of situations in which wedding professionals were sued for refusing to work same-sex weddings or commitment ceremonies, there’s nothing that really ties this to homosexuality, right? Except that if it was discrimination on the basis of race or religion, you wouldn’t necessarily be bringing a state law cause of action? But then again, states have their own non-discrimination statutes.

I mean, the way this works, right is that if I open a men only health club and I get sued for discrimination in public accomodation on the basis of sex (under Arizona state law), I can claim that my decision is a result of a sincerely held religious belief that unmarried (to each other) men and women should not be in gym clothes and/or physically active together. And the plaintiff would have to show that requiring me, in this particular instance, to accept women is compelling and least restrictive, etc. Right? Whereas, I suppose, previously, RFRA protections might not be avaliable in those contexts?

Actually, the most interesting part of the statute is the “in this particular instance” requirement. I would think that that would require a showing, for example, that there were no gyms in the area that would serve women. It would have potentially interesting implications in the context of race-discrimination claims in public accomodation.

Well, not really. Race-discrimination claims would still be actionable under federal law.