Saturday, March 1, 2014

Arizona Governor's "Religious Freedom" Veto Was the Right Move

TPM reports that "Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer slapped down the right wing of her own party, vetoing a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays."

Brewer made the right move. 

Legally forcing religious people to contract with gays is a violation of freedom of religion. But that is a consequence of a broader rights violation. The issue of religionists' right not to serve gays is not fundamentally a religious freedom issue, as I have arguedThe issue is one of freedom of contract, a right derived from the broader principle of the right to freedom of association. 

The Arizona law specifically targeted gays and protected the contract and associational rights only in a limited way and only of a narrow segment of the population—religiously oriented social conservatives. This is grossly unfair. What about the underlying laws banning private discrimination? What about non-religious people? Why don't their sincerely held non-religious convictions matter? Is it right for any special interest group to be granted special exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, laws that in and of themselves violate the rights of all? I think not.

The issue can not and should not be considered outside of the context of the broader rights to contract and association. The reason: Rights are universal, meaning they are held equally and at all times by all people, and under a proper government must be protected equally and at all times. The Arizona law obviously didn't meet that test.

The proper course for these social conservatives is to call for repeal of all laws banning private discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws violate the rights of individuals to choose their associations. Such laws should be rescinded. Remove these underlying, unjust laws, and religious freedom follows.

But does rescinding such laws imply a moral statement in support of bigotry? I'll answer that question tomorrow.  

Related Reading:

Gay Marriage: The Right to Voluntary Contract, Not to Coercive “Contract”


Mike Kevitt said...

"...repeal of all laws banning private discrimination." This must include, among everything else, title 'x' or whatever it is, of the civil rights act of 1964, banning discr. in 'pub. accomms.' against 'protected groups'. So, you must accommodate Joojoobee, whoever, if he's of a protected group (meaning anything other than a white male).

All this stuff must be repealed, in one feld swoop?, or bits over time under an overall pgm. stated clearly in public?

How 'bout edjucashun? Free mkt. NOW, broad side of the barn? or bits over time under an overall pgm. stated clearly in public, but for now, just 'parental choice', then vouchers, then charters, THEN tax credits, then an emerging free mkt. in education? Which is it? All now, or piece-meal later ['politics' (crime) and all that jazz]? Which? When?

I give up. You tell me which is better, over or under. I can't cipher the details. M.K.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...


I don’t think the anti-discrimination issue is analogous to education. With education, you could expand freedom incrementally en-route to a fully free market. E.G.; tax credits that expand choice for everyone equally from the standpoint of the law.

The Arizona law didn’t apply equally to everyone. Once you start carving out special exemptions for special interests, we’re heading farther away from objective law. There’s enough of that going on already.

I suppose you could argue to remove “sexual orientation” from anti-discrimination laws, which would incrementally expand freedom of association for everyone equally. But is that tenable politically? I think the issue is either/or. You must go after anti-discrimination laws head-on. This includes Title II and Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That is the root of the problem.