Arizona Segregation Bill

Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

It’s like people never learned anything from the Oklahoma Satanist case last year.  Unintended consequences matter.  Yet, it seems like people don’t build them into their behavioral models.  If you open that door, you’re not the only one that gets to walk through.  It’s so simple.  It’s so basic, yet people forget it time and time again.

New York Satanists Building a Shrine to the Devil in Oklahoma

If you weren’t aware of it, a few years ago, some folks in the state were so obsessed with getting a 10 Commandments monument at the state house as way of stopping “liberal judges” from oppressing their religious freedom that they aggressively worked to pass laws that made such displays legal if the monuments were paid for with private money.

[mainbodyad]You can guess what happened.

A Satanic Temple in New York raised money to install a 7-foot high idol to the devil in Oklahoma, represented as the demonic goat Baphomet, who sits on a throne enshrined around a pentagram, as two worshiping children stand adoringly at his feet.  There’s a decent chance it will be built as half the money has already been raised.  Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg News, “Other organizations have since followed suit. PETA now wants to hang a banner that encourages people to stop eating meat, the Universal Society of Hinduism wants to donate a statue of the Hindu deity Hanuman, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has asked to donate some sort of pasta-related memorial. ”

Oklahoma Satanist Statue

This is the monument that Satanists are planning on building at an Oklahoma Court House following the state’s stupid expansion of its religious liberty laws.  Now, a community that will largely find the belief abhorrent will have to pass in front of children adoringly looking upon Baphomet.

Louisiana Christians Inadvertently Pass Laws Resulting In Them Using Their Own Tax Dollars to Fund Muslim Schools

Consider Louisiana.  Some individuals in that state pushed for a bill called the Minimum Foundations Program, which was passed into law.  It allowed the secular schools to be bypassed, and parents to send their children to religious schools that indoctrinate according to their particular preferred creed.  Yet, now, the state is scrambling because it never occurred to them what should have been obvious: Muslims sought to take advantage of the program, having taxpayer money used to teach the Koran alongside reading and arithmetic.  One Representative said, “It’ll be the Church of Scientology next year.”  

The door had been opened and now a lot of people in the state are apoplectic at the notion their tax dollars might be used to pay for lessons on Allah and Sharia law.

Arizona Winds Up Making Almost Any Form of Discrimination Legal for Almost Every Type of Entity

Arizona now adds itself to the list of states making such idiotically short-sighted moves.  Today, the state legislature passed one of the only segregation bills in generations to amend the law under the guise of “religious freedom”.   In a twist of supreme irony, it could end up doing exactly the opposite and be used to attack Christians, the rich, or anyone else who someone doesn’t like.  This came on the heels the Kansas legislature killing their own version of the statute after realizing what a terrible idea it is.

Arizona Segregation Bill

The Arizona legislature has essentially just passed a sweeping segregation bill that allows anyone to do anything for any reason, as long as they say it was “God”.Image Licsend Under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported by Wars 22:24, 17 August 2006 (UTC) from Wikimedia.

It’s called SB 1062 (here is the PDF).  It was intended to give everyone in the state the right to refuse service to gays. To allow people to:

  • Kick them out of hotels if they didn’t like the fact they were married,
  • Throw them out of restaurants if they didn’t want to see a couple eating together with their children,
  • Ban them from swimming pools,
  • Refuse to fix their cars,
  • Drag them out of movie theaters if the owner decided he didn’t want them watching a film in his facility,
  • Forbid them from playing golf on a certain golf course.

The list goes on and on but to add icing on the cake, it granted a defense from civil claims in court for the bigot in question.  It’s a law that would have caused a pre-reformed George Wallace himself to gloat with glee.

Of course, writing this in a narrowly tailored way, in light of the Supreme Court’s Romer v. Evans decision was sure to get it struck down by the court system, so what did the legislators do?  So intent were they on legalizing a new form of segregation that they lost their minds and went nuclear.  They used some of the stupidest, most open-ended language imaginable, going so far as to grant corporations the right to do almost anything to anybody as long as it (the corporation) declared it was doing so on religious grounds, even if the corporation otherwise had no religious beliefs.  That is because now, the word “person” refers to:


Yes, even trust funds and dairy co-ops can now declare an act “religious” – without having any other religious beliefs, or even consistently applying them – and discriminate against anyone for practically any reason.

Hear that restaurant franchisee?  You might just be able to refuse to service customers unless they agree to swear eternal loyalty to Lucifer.

Hear that financial institutions?  You might be able to get around those pesky rules requiring you to treat white and black customers the same way, and continue your practice of “red lining” certain districts to avoid underwriting loans to minorities.  After all, Ikenga is leading your spirit to increase profits.  The Federal regulators might want to have a word with you, though, so you should probably still try to hide it.

How about you, apartment owner?  If you really believe that children born out of wedlock are an affront to God (Deuteronomy 23:2), you can try to argue against the Federal fair housing rules that forbid you from making decisions based on family status and instead, say that you are deeply, religiously offended by having to rent to a non-married mother or single father and are thus exempt under State laws.  (I doubt the Feds will let you get away with it, but it certainly adds an interesting argument.)

[mainbodyad]Tired and driving through a rainstorm in the middle of the night?  Hope you aren’t Christian, because the owner of that Bed and Breakfast might just require you to pray for Allah’s blessing before getting a room for the night.

Flip that around, too.  What if you are a devout Muslim, who just wants to mind his or her own business?  You pay your taxes, you’re a good member of society, and yet one day you go into a hardware store where now, the manager can throw you out simply because he hates Muslims!  All he has to do is say his sincerely held religious beliefs would be violated if he had to sell anything that might be used to glorify Allah or improve the lives of His followers.

This whole thing is crazy.  Hate blacks?  God.  Don’t like Jews?  God.  Can’t stand straight folks?  God.  Don’t want a Buddhist child in your preschool?  God.  Believe Republicans are evil so you don’t want them to shop in your store?  God.  You can get away with almost anything.  You can do almost anything.

Only, Arizona Reserves the Right to Strip You of Your Religious Freedoms If It Doesn’t Like Them

Except, you kind of can’t.  To make it even more confusing, the state gave itself the right to decide if a person can sue to strip someone of this protection on a case-by-case basis if the person who experiences discrimination can prove the state has a “compelling interest” in preventing such discrimination, and that it is being done in the most focused way possible.  Thus, in a sense, it leaves up the courts and government to decide whether your religious belief is rational enough – or rather, popular enough – to take advantage of this newly bestowed right!  It is a law that is both expansive and narrow, overly broad and finely tailored.  It takes a level of stupidity so great to accomplish such a Byzantine knot that it creates a paradox in that only a genius could craft such self-referential complexity.

I don’t understand people sometimes.  They vote against their own best interest, and pass laws that are only going to come back to hurt them.  George Soros could decide that he was going to buy up every gas station in the state and refuse to sell gas to anyone who refused to swear under oath they were an atheist, disavowing any belief in God.

Is this really the kind of civilization people want?  Are people so irrationally motivated by animus that they will destroy their own stable market for the sake of being able to express to some random person or couple they don’t like them?

I sometimes feel like a stranger living in a strange land.  Most – not all, but most – of life’s problems are self-inflicted and this is another example of people of creating a weapon that they intend for their perceived enemies, but will inevitably end up piercing their own heart.

Should I just prepare for the day I find myself denied a coffee by a radical feminist social justice warrior because I am a white, rich, married, cisgendered, able-bodied male who, by nature of my very existence, supports the perceived patriarchy?  Should I make peace with the fact my dry cleaner might throw me out of his store because I advocated for lower corporate taxes to make the United States more competitive with certain European nations?  Is that where these myopic lummox want to take us all?

This is what I get for reading the news at 2 a.m.

To feel better about the world, here is some science: Hydrogel beads put in colored water.

Update: February 26th, 2014 at 7:14 p.m., CST – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has announced she will veto the law after major Republican leaders and corporate sponsors decried the economic damage it would do.  The law in Indiana and Georgia have been shelved, as well; at least temporarily.  One representative is attempting to get it passed into law in Missouri but it has very little chance due to Governor Nixon.  Moments ago, the bill in Ohio was shelved, as well, in light of the backlash in Arizona.

Brewer vetoing Arizona's segregation bill in her office ...

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer tweeted a photo of her vetoing Arizona’s segregation bill in her office …

Brewer offered these prepared remarks:

Good evening, and thank you for joining me here today.

I am here to announce my decision on Senate Bill 1062.

As with every proposal that reaches my desk, I gave Senate Bill 1062 careful evaluation and deliberate consideration. I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or boos from the crowd.

I took the time necessary to make the RIGHT decision. I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation. I listened and asked questions. As Governor, I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in OUR state. And I have the record to prove it. My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona.

When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear… Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic Comeback.

From CEOs — to entrepreneurs — to business surveys — Arizona ranks as one the best states to grow or start a business. Additionally, our IMMEDIATE challenge is fixing a broken Child Protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.

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. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.

After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago. To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before.

Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.

Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans. Thank you.