As I expected, Arizona governor Jan Brewer has vetoed SB 1062. Though it has been described in the media as a bill that establishes a “right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers”, this is quite false. The aim of the bill was to provide the same protections currently afforded to religious institutions under state law to “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church,” “estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity” and to allow religious defense to be used as a defense in lawsuits by the same entities.
In itself, the bill is harmless. It makes no reference to homosexuals, even though the outrageously unjust decision of Elane Photography v. Willock, which may be heard by the Supreme Court at some point in the reasonably near future, was the impetus behind it. In context, however, the bill was quite unnecessary and I believe will ultimately end up causing more harm than good.
In the first place, Elane v. Willock took place in New Mexico, wherein homosexuals are a “protected class” under NM state law. No such protections exist in AZ; ergo, no legislation along these lines was really needed at this time. The actual threat to religious liberty, at least from the vindictive sort of activism that has brought photographers and bakers to court, was non-existent. The summary and background written by proponents of the bill made Elane one of its core concerns without recognizing that NMs distinctive protections for homosexuals were responsible for the legal conflict in that state (as an aside, I do not believe Elane Photography refused service simply because Willock was gay).
Because the bill wasn’t really necessary and a tangible threat in the form of an actual lawsuit against a Christian business owner was not in play, it was easy to see it as an irrationally spiteful measure (as I would see the actions of Vanessa Willock against Elane Photography, by the way). Now it is one thing to have to put up with the left-wing media’s triumphalism when we have a moral duty to make a stand, as Elane Photography and other businesses have; it is another thing to have to witness the spectacle of melodrama from the homosexual political movement and its straight allies as Brewer announced her decision. The passage, veto, and failure of SB 1062 gave aid to our enemies who would trample our religious liberties into dust, and did harm to our own cause. I do not blame Brewer for this. I blame imprudence on the part our well-meaning friends in Arizona. As the governor herself put it:
Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.
We must only fight battles that need fighting. Preemptive strikes didn’t work out too well for George W. Bush and they aren’t going to work out well for the social conservative movement. Right now this country is split – roughly half of it agrees with our basic proposition that the right to free exercise of religion and conscience outweighs a gay couple’s right to have any business they like participate in their gay weddings. If we push for unnecessary legislation against vague or non-existent threats and hand PR victories to the enemies of liberty, that balance could shift against us in short order.
The moral high ground never belongs to perceived aggressors. Only those who strike back in legitimate self-defense can strike with overwhelming force and the moral support of the people. If this lesson is not absorbed, then our cause will never prevail.
Just recently, Arizona joined Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas in cutting off all funding to Planned Parenthood. For Governor Brewer, it is a simple matter of “common sense”, respecting the repeated desire of the majority of Americans to be exempt from funding abortion with their tax dollars. For pro-life advocates, it is about scoring another direct hit against the largest symbol of “abortion rights” in the United States. Here is how Planned Parenthood sees it, however:
“Many in the legislature will never know what it’s like to feel a lump in their breast and have to worry about the cost of a doctor’s visit,” said Bryan Howard, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Arizona.
“This is the reality with which many Arizona women are faced, at the hands of a legislature determined to reduce access to prevention care while pursuing its ideological political agenda,” he said.
Why should those of us who are pro-life deny it? We are pursuing an ideological political agenda, as of course are they. Our ideology, if you really want to call it that (and I typically don’t), is that every human being has a right to life from the moment of conception until the moment of death. Some of us differ on whether or not, or under what circumstances, a human life may be justly taken, but we all agree that the killing of innocent children inside or outside of the womb is a grave moral evil and cannot be tolerated by a just and humane society. This is an “ideological political agenda” worth pursuing, and I’m not ashamed to say so. Without respect for human life, society will degenerate into something more cruel and callous than the jungle.
With all the talk about the upcoming Congressional midterms, local races are getting overlooked. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. First of all, despite a century plus of actions and efforts to the contrary, federalism is still alive, and state governments still matter. Second, these races have an impact upon national elections because states will be redrawing their districts in the wake of the 2010 census.
It would be a massive undertaking beyond my abilities and time to look at each state’s legislative elections, though most projections I have heard have the Republicans gaining a massive amount of seats in state legislatures. Republicans are projected to switch majority control in about five or six states at a minimum. Here I will be taking a look at each of the gubernatorial elections.
On a side note, it may seem odd to label these elections as pickups and holds. After all, it’s not as though governors gather en masse and vote, so having a “majority” of governorships seems not to be that big of a deal. But for the aforementioned reasons, it is important to win as many of these races as possible. Currently there are 26 Democratic governors and 24 Republican. Republicans will certainly have a majority after Tuesday. As is the case with the House, the only question is how big of a majority.
And now, to the races we go:
I am a proud American with a long and rich Mexican heritage.
My name is Tito Edwards and I approve this message.
(Biretta tip: Lucianne)