This post was written by Kira Nelson
Gay activists are calling for a public apology from the authors of SB 1062, Arizona’s religious freedom bill.
If not vetoed by the governor, SB 1062 would have protected the religious freedoms of business owners and craftsmen. For example, a Christian photographer who believed that gay marriage was in opposition to his religious convictions could decline to photograph a gay wedding. In order to claim religious freedom protections under SB 1062, the photographer would have had to demonstrate an actual sincere religious conviction. The law would have protected the photographer’s rights whether being sued by a private or governmental entity.
SB 1062 wouldn’t have actually changed anything. The right to freedom of religious expression is safeguarded in the Constitution. Unfortunately recent judicial decisions have challenged that right. SB 1062 would have merely explicitly safeguarded already existing freedoms.
SB 1062 would have made certain that governmental laws could not force people to violate their faith unless it had a compelling governmental interest. Cathi Herrod, president of CAP and contributing author of SB 1062 noted that this balancing of interests has been in federal law since 1993.
In a statement, Herrod said opponents of the measure distorted its intent, which she said was to “guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.”
But gay activist connected with Citizens for a Better Arizona swarmed the conservative Center for Arizonian Policy (CAP) building last Wednesday demanding a formal apology from Herrod.
Irate protesters stated that Herrod was a puppeteer and that Arizona overwhelmingly supports the LGBT community. One protester suggested returning with Molotov cocktails while another suggested running Herrod “out of town.”
The degree of anger directed at Herrod is disturbing. It seems odd that a group committed to equality and safe guarding constitutional rights, such as Citizens for a Better Arizona claim to be, could be so determined limit the freedoms of others.