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“Right to discriminate” bill supports KKK’s right to racial segregation says Sen Yarbrough’s office

By Cristan Williams
@cristanwilliams

Arizona state senator, Steve Yarbrough (R) sponsored Senate Bill 1062, hailed as a “property rights” bill aimed at ensuring that business owners and social service organizations would have the right to discriminate on the basis of religious freedom. Devon Mills, speaking for Yarbrough’s office said, “It allows business owners to use religion as a reason to deny someone business if it conflicts with their religious belief.”

Arizona Democrats, who argue the legislation is a way to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, sponsored eight amendments in an attempt to thwart the legislation — all of which were rejected by Senate Republicans.

“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom,” state Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar said in a statement Wednesday. “With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”

As testament to the bill’s mission, state Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R), one of three lawmakers sponsoring the bill, cited a 2013 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that banned wedding photographers from refusing to shoot same-sex ceremonies, according to the Associated Press. – HuffPo

After hearing about the various ways Yarbrough’s bill supports bigotry, I called his office to get the skinny on precisely how bigoted Yarbrough is willing to be:*

Cristan Williams: “I understand that this is basically a property owner rights [bill]. If a gay couple, or something like that, came in a restaurant and I as a restaurant-owner didn’t endorse that lifestyle, I wouldn’t have to serve them, I wouldn’t have to have those customers at my store. I wouldn’t risk being sued over [my discrimination], correct?

Yarbrough’s Office: “If you could object to someone coming in, if it was based on a religious objection, that is correct.”

CW: “Organizations like the Klan are explicitly religious organisations. If you had a racist person who was part of [the KKK], if it was their sincere belief that the curse of Ham is correct, [do these] bills open the door to segregation again. Correct?”

YO: “If one could prove that preforming an action or an action is motivated by that belief, the belief severally held, and if they did that it would substantially burden their beliefs, then yes, that is correct.

It’s no surprise to find that Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh (R) supports a move in this direction for his state. “All this bill does is protect the religious freedom that the people who began this country came here to establish,” Kavanagh said. I debated Kavanagh when he attempted to pass a bill that would ban trans people from using restrooms. When I spoke with Monica Roberts about this story she reminded me, “All oppressions are linked.”

bobslide6[1] Intersectionality, a fun guide

The same folks who’ve made a career out of attacking LGBT people are in favor of a bill they know will empower hate groups like the Klan. “This is a license to discriminate,” said EJ Montini of The Arizona Republic. “It essentially will allow people to refuse service to people who may be gay or be of other religions.” As to other groups that are at risk Montini said, “There could be a lot of exposure in this particular bill.” Driving home the bigoted roots of this bill, he continued, “This is extremists in the Legislature essentially appeasing zealots out in the community, it’s really a shame.”


*When I do fact-checking and want a bigoted person or system to be a little more honest about their feelings and motivations, I generally call them up and truthfully identify myself as calling from Houston, TEXAS. I sometimes add a bit of an East Texas twang and/or vernacular in there too. Thus far, I’ve not been disappointed in the assumptions people draw about me being a Texan; people/systems feel fairly comfortable opening up to me.


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Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.
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  • crash2parties

    Someone has to call them on this. Our nation has somehow gone from having a government that respects people’s religious beliefs to trying to place those beliefs – whatever they may be at the moment for a given individual – above the law.

    They want to be able to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. But religious beliefs are a choice. So, what this law really boils down to is they simply want the right to choose to discriminate.

  • ocerg1111

    Help stop anti-gay discrimination laws passed in Arizona and other states. http://wh.gov/lP2xM Please spread the word!

  • ocerg1111

    Arizona and other states are passing laws allowing for wholesale discrimination against gays and anyone whom people wish to discriminate against, so long as they can link it to their religion.

    I remember the videos of black children being barred from their schools by white bigots. I remember standing beside dying gay men as emergency workers let them bleed to death because they were afraid they might catch aids. I remember Matthew Shepard, found naked and tied to a fence in the snow, with his tears frozen to his face. I can’t live in a nation that takes the freedom away from itself and perpetuates the hatred and racism and homophobia into the next century.

    How many people stood by as blacks were told the restaurant counter or the bus or the bathroom was off limits by virtue of their race and wanted to say something but couldn’t? It’s hard to stand against a raging river, especially when you feel you are doing it alone. How long do we say nothing? Please, please take a moment to click a link and by doing so add your voice to the call for human decency in our nation. Take a stand against discrimination today.

    share it on facebook and twitter. We have 30 days to get 100,000 signatures to make the president read it.

    [Sign the petition](https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-states-legalizing-discrimination/LNDzHTtq)

  •  A Native American religion won a court case years ago allowing them to use peyote in their religious ceremony. It doesn’t allow them to force other people to use peyote. That’s the equivalent of what the Arizona legislature just did.

  • Laurelai Bailey

    Can we send all the bigots to mars?

    • Zelda Rose

      Too expensive, dammit.

      • Laurelai Bailey

        We are going to go there *anyways* just send the bigots first so they can take all of the risks for us. Kind of like a penal colony.

        • mistwolf

          No. Just no. They don’t get to go to mars first just because they are twits. Why reward them for their behaviour?

          Now, however, I do believe we need a good crew to get some night time surface shots of the sun. It’s only dark half the night, so you gotta be quick while it’s dark…

          • Laurelai Bailey

            Or…how about asteroid mining.