“This is not true. RFRAs do not protect “First Amendment” freedoms. They go much farther. To learn the truth read this. It is time for RFRA supporterS to tell the truth to legislators and the people. They want more than the Constitution actually guarantees and that more comes packaged with rights to harm others.” – Professor Marci A. Hamilton
An example of why this legislation is important is the contraception mandate case before the Supreme Court.
An old Mark Twain line best sums up the hype surrounding Arizona’s Senate bill 1062: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Mind you, Mr. Twain said this before Twitter.
But as it goes, the lies and misinformation about SB 1062 have spread across our state and nation. Yet the truth about this important bill is much more simple and sensible.
OUR VIEW: Taking the prize for prejudice
Arizona’s legislature passed this bill to ensure that everyone in our state, regardless of their religious beliefs, is free to work according to their faith. It clarifies Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to bring it in line with the federal RFRA.
The legislation came about because of the growing threats to religious freedom we’re seeing across our country. In these cases, a handful of courts and political entities are misinterpreting RFRA, and denying families their constitutionally protected freedoms.
A great example of why this legislation is important is the Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, the Obama administration is attempting to force every employer in America to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their insurance plans.
The Hahns, the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, have a sincerely held religious belief about the sanctity of life. Yet the government is claiming that the moment the Hahns started their business, they surrendered their First Amendment freedoms.
Federal courts have ruled 39 times on this issue; 33 times they’ve said that people like the Hahns should not be forced to surrender their religious liberty merely because they started a business. Yet the six times that courts have ruled against religious freedom highlight why this bill is so necessary.
That’s it. It’s that simple. SB 1062 doesn’t create any new right to deny service. It doesn’t create a “get out of jail free card” by simply claiming your religious rights.
What it does do is maintain the current protections in law to prohibit abuse, while safeguarding everyone’s freedom — regardless of their race, gender or sexual preferences — by ensuring Arizonans will not be punished for merely exercising their fundamental liberties.
Cathi Herrod is president of the Center for Arizona Policy.