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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Would Arizona's anti-gay SB1062 also apply to interracial marriages?

I don't see why not as nothing in the wording of the bill says that it applies exclusively to religious objections to gay marriage. The drafters were careful to avoid such obviously discriminatory targeting, and while laws against miscegenation are a thing of the past and most religions that had objections in the past have dropped them, there are still a handful that cloth their bigotry, not only against gays, but also against people of color, in religious garb.

This bill, named the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which went to Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer on Monday, has been justified as protecting small businesses like bakeries and florists from being forced to provide services to gay couples when they have religious objections to same-sex marriages. Wikipedia describes the content as follows:
SB 1062 is intended to amend Section 41-1493 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which prevents "any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies" from "substantially burden[ing]" a person's exercise of religion, unless the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a "compelling government interest". SB 1062 revises it by expanding the definition of person in the article from "a religious assembly or institution" to also include "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church," "estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity",[6] and allows for religious-freedom as a claim or defense in lawsuits "regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding."[6]
The pro-SB1062 Center for Arizona Policy supports the bill with these talking points:
  • Arizona needs SB 1062 to protect the religious freedom rights of every citizen.
  • In America, people should be free to live and work according to their faith. Our nation was founded upon the ideal of religious freedom and the right to freely walk your faith. 
  • People don't forfeit their religious freedom rights simply because they go to work or start a business.
  • No one should ever be forced to choose between their conscience or religious beliefs and their profession. The Constitution doesn’t only guarantee our “freedom to worship” but our freedom to practice and promote our faith. Americans don’t have to leave their faith and convictions at their church door; we have the right to carry it with us in all aspects of our lives.
In the United States, laws against interracial marriage first raised their ugly heads with Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law of 1691 and such laws had been applies in more than 40 states before they were finally found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967. The religious institution, Bob Jones University didn't remove its rules against interracial dating until 2000 and a 2011 article published by Christianity Today began:
This month marks the 44th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. A 1968 Gallup poll found three-quarters of whites disapproved of a whites and blacks marrying. Today, opposition to interracial marriage is low, but it still lingers. Among religious groups, evangelicals remain the most opposed to interracial marriage, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (Pew).
That Pew research poll revealed that in 2011, 16% of all evangelicals were still opposed to whites marrying non-whites and most of them based that opinion on their religious beliefs and and their interpretation of the Bible. Given that many of these people live in a world so small that they don't even have room to change their mind, it is likely than a significant percentage still feel the same way. Consider the 2011 conclusion of Nil Desperandum who blogs on Faith & Heritage, Occidental Christianity For Preserving Western Culture and People. In his On Interracial Marriage: The Moral Status of Miscegenation he concludes:
Miscegenation is unnatural and works against God’s purposes, especially when racial admixture occurs in large quantities. Therefore its default status is one of moral wrongness. In unordinary situations, the unnatural may be morally permissible, particularly when it is kept in small numbers (so as to not destroy the distinctiveness of a people or culture), but in ordinary situations, the default status of miscegenation cannot be overturned. We ought not to value the natural and the unnatural equally, and we also ought not to treat race as meaningless or insignificant.
Given that in 2013 he published a four part series with the title Christianity as a Necessary Foundation for White Nationalism, I find it extremely unlikely that his opposition to interracial marriage, based on his religious views, have changed either. So why wouldn't Arizona's SB1062 allow him to discriminate against interracial marriage just as it was designed to allow discrimination against same-sex marriage?

I hope this analysis will help to bring home the reactionary and chauvinist content of SB1062 to those that that don't already see it. As important as religious freedom is, it must never be allowed to trump human rights or be used as a cover for bigoted views and institutionalized discrimination. This bill must be rejected by all.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. Brewer echoed the concerns of this blog:
The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

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