Anti-gay movements experience setbacks

So the governor of Arizona Jan Brewer has vetoed the bill that would allow people who have ‘sincerely’ held religious beliefs to not serve those whom they disapprove of (i.e., members of the LGBT community), saying that the bill would have ‘unintended consequences’ (translation: the business community was telling me that they would suffer and Arizona could even lose the hosting of next year’s Super Bowl).

One consequence of Brewer’s action is that it effectively scuttled a similar move that was pending in Ohio where legislators were trying to introduce a bill that was similar to Arizona’s.

[Democratic State Representative Bill] Patmon says the bill under consideration in the Ohio House is written to protect religious freedom of Ohioans.

“It will protect you if you want to exercise your faith at work, if you want to pray, if you want to wear a cross, if you want to exhibit something at your school that doesn’t interfere with government interest. We would apply the strict scrutiny test to it and say you can’t do it because it is not in our interest to ban people from wearing yamikas or any of that,” Patmon said.

“I think it opens the exact same doors that the Arizona bill does,” Nick Warner, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, said. He says the fact is that Ohio’s bill is full of unintended consequences.

Now Patmon has said that he is withdrawing the bill because it is open to ‘misinterpretation’ and that he never intended it to be discriminatory. Right.

But we should not expect the dead-enders who oppose equal rights for the LGBT community to give up. In fact, sensing that the tide is turning, they seem to be doubling their efforts to try and entrench their views into the law, using the ‘religious liberty’ fig leaf. But as ACLU spokesperson Nock Worner said, “For some people, [religious freedom] means not only do you have a right to your religious beliefs, you have a right to force it on people. That’s not what religious freedom is. It’s a shield, not a sword — it’s to protect you from the government, not to attack others.”

Meanwhile the move to repeal Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage has split the gay rights movement here. One group FreedomOhio has collected enough signatures to put the repeal amendment on the ballot in 2014. But another group Equality Ohio feels that they should have waited until 2016. The latter’s argument is that because of the trends, an extra two years would result in more people voting in favor of repeal. Currently polls indicate that the issue is roughly evenly balanced in Ohio and off-year elections like 2014 usually result in lower turnout among Democratic voters, reducing the chances of success.


  1. says

    You know what really gets me about “sincerely held” beliefs? The fact that their own stupid book interpreted literally doesn’t support anything covered in the bill.

    Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that thou shalt not serve TEH GHEYS when they come into your store.

    Now the Old Testament – well, it also does not condemn believers for serving TEH GHEYS. It says they should be killed. (Just the mens though. It says nothing about lesbians.)

    So if a store owner doesn’t kill TEH GHEYS that come into his store, how can I believe in his “sincerely held beliefs”? It’s right there. Kill TEH GHEYS! Fundamentalists who aren’t killing TEH GHEYS are not really showing that they have very strong faith in the literal Word of God.

    The problem with the phrase “cafeteria Christian” is that it implies that there’s any other kind.

  2. doublereed says

    Why wouldn’t they just go the amendment now and then go for it in two years as well?

    But in general, I’m in favor of anything that gets people talking about gay marriage. And that’s exactly what putting it on the ballot does. It certainly did that in Maryland. Churches talked about it with their congregations. Friends and family talked about it. The more people talk about it, the more they realize that their reasoning is based on status quo bias or bigotry. Especially cross-generational conversation.

  3. justsomeguy says


    What I hate about “sincerely held” beliefs is that there’s absolutely no way to measure sincerity, so it’s a purely subjective determination made by people who most likely have never had their sincerity questioned. Any given religion is indistinguishable from a silly story made up on the spot, but many religions are old and popular and thus above scrutiny.

  4. Pteryxx says

    The ripple effect from the backlash against Arizona bigotry has also reached as far as Mississippi.

    According to activists on the ground, Mississippi *has not* taken the discrimination language out of its state seal bill.

    Deep South Progressive: (bolds mine)

    The bill, obtained by Deep South Progressive, still says that state action cannot “compel any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion” and continues to define “exercise of religion” to mean “the ability to act or the refusal to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief.”

    Those key parts of the bill, which LGBT activists feared would legitimize discrimination by businesses that claim “sincerely held religious belief” as the motivating factor, remain unchanged. That’s contrary to previous reports that said the bill had been amended to only include the section that would add “In God We Trust” to the Mississippi state seal.

    So basically it’s still a Motorcycle Bill situation. I have no way to confirm the amended text – Mississippi’s legislature site (here)has not updated it.

  5. sailor1031 says

    These kind of bills aren’t discriminatory? Well then, who’s standing up for my sincere religious belief that I must kill my neighbour for working on the sabbath? Or that anyone who eats shellfish or wears mixed fabrics must be punished? Or my right to have my disrespectful child stoned to death? These cafeteria christians aren’t about religious freedom they’re about their hatred of gays.

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