For Immediate Release
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Contact: Cathi Herrod, Esq.
advisory@azpolicy.org
or Cindy Dahlgren
cdahlgren@azpolicy.org

“Non-Discrimination” Bills Solve Nothing, Show Profound Disdain for Religious Freedom

 At a time when courts, as well as voters are taking a closer look at the far-reaching effects of so-called “non-discrimination” laws, activists insist on pushing through their agenda based on false information.

Proponents of SB1231 and HB2716 offer a solution where there is no problem, and create major constitutional dilemmas for a vast number of Arizonans who do not conform to proponents’ viewpoints. President of Center for Arizona Policy, Cathi Herrod put it this way, “While businesses are free to implement their own policies, government imposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) laws force blanket policy even in situations of utmost sensitivity and safety. Such laws demand girls and women share public restrooms, locker rooms, showers, even domestic violence shelters with biological men. They also force women to compete with biological men on women’s sports teams, clearly disadvantaging female athletes and rolling back decades of women’s achievements. All this in addition to showing profound disdain for religious freedom.”

HB 2716 takes an axe to religious freedom by amending Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to allow government to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” with “non-discrimination” laws. Herrod explains, “Such an amendment to RFRA would violate Arizonans’ conscience rights with the apparent intent to force health care providers to participate in abortions, or provide puberty blockers or surgery to minors and adults struggling with gender identity questions. It essentially puts the demands of the LGBTQ community above those who exercise their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

“That offends the U.S. Constitution and the will of Arizonans. Arizona voters overwhelmingly support citizens’ rights to live and work according to their deeply held religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are unpopular. A recent poll found 77% of Arizonans support that constitutional right.”

HB2716 effectively overturns a recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling (Brush & Nib v City of Phoenix) affirming basic speech and religious freedoms. The case itself proves our point: So-called  “non-discrimination” laws punish people who do not conform to government’s ideology, and violate their constitutional rights. The court made clear that the government “must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions.”  It adds, “public accommodations are not immune to the First Amendment.”

Dispelling myths

 Contrary to claims by proponents, “non-discrimination” laws:

  • Are not necessary
    • There is simply no evidence of a widespread problem. On the contrary, such laws actually violate First Amendment rights of Arizona business owners and health care workers who aim to live and work according to their deeply held beliefs.
  • Do not hold back Arizona’s economy. In fact, AZ thrives without such laws
  • Do not limit major sporting events in Arizona
    • Arizona has hosted three Super bowls, and will host another in 2023
    • Arizona hosted the NCAA Men’s Division One Final Four in 2017, and will host it again in 2024
    • Arizona hosts the Phoenix Open yearly
    • Arizona hosts Spring Training yearly

 Herrod concludes, “Tolerance is a two-way street, and all should acknowledge that disagreement is not discrimination. SOGI laws attempt to force agreement in complex and sensitive issues. They ostracize and marginalize people who hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage, sex, and gender. And there is no place for such laws in Arizona.”

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.
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