Anderson Cooper interviewed Arizona state senator Al Melvin who voted for SB-1062 Monday night. The proposed legislation allows businesses to exercise their religious freedom to not service LGBT citizens. Senator Melvin states that the bill, ” is nothing more or less than protecting religious freedom in our state.” Cooper made the point that Arizona does not have any laws that protect LGBT citizens from discrimination, so why does Arizona need a law that specifically allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens? Senator Melvin concedes the point but still argues that the bill is “not a discrimination bill but a religious freedom bill”.
Paraphrasing, Cooper responds that since Jesus was against divorce in the Bible, then shouldn’t Arizona propose a bill that allows businesses to discriminate against divorced people? Moreover, Cooper argues that Jesus never actually mentions gay people in the Bible. Senator Melvin does not accept Cooper’s point about divorced people and still repeats the same thing about how the bill is promoting religious freedom and is not based on discrimination.
The problem with proposing legislation based on “religious freedom” is that it is often motivated by people’s prejudices. Most people cherry pick parts of their religion that best fit their beliefs and biases. Senator Melvin and his supporters chose to pick parts in the Bible that rejects LGBT people because they are prejudiced against LGBT people. However, they conveniently ignored the parts in the Bible that explicitly said divorce is immoral. There is a fair argument to make about the state undermining religious freedom by not allowing church establishments or congregations but this is clearly not the case. This is discrimination based on prejudice and cloaked by religion, pure and simple.