Small victory in Arizona: the incredibly poorly-written and mind-blowingly-stupid HB 2625 (also known as the “Explain to your employer why you need birth control, you hussy” Act) has been defeated in the state Senate. 13-17, but still, we’ll take what we can get.
However, like any good crazy person, the bill’s sponsor Debbie Lesko has vowed to fight on: “We’ll try again, but either way, it’s the right thing to do. If Republicans don’t stand up and fight for religious freedom, who will?” Ah yes, it’s so noble for the Republicans to stand up and defend their right to impose their religion on everyone. I assume their Medal of Honor is in the mail.
It’s a bit heartening to see that even a deeply conservative state legislature thought this bill was a bit too much. Eight Republicans voted against the bill (one did for different reasons, which I’ll explain later).
From Jerry Lewis (R-Mesa): “I’m all for religious freedom, but we have to be fair in not prescribing rights to one group of individuals at the expense of others.”
Michele Reagen (R-Scottsdale) had an epiphany that if Fox News thinks Arizona is overstepping its bounds, then things have really gotten out of control. Her veto was a result of negative media attention: “This was not good policy,” Reagan said. “If it had passed, we would have been the subject of national news — and not in a good way.” Vetoing something because you’re worried more about your state’s reputation than the actual content of the bill isn’t the most noble of reasons, but at least it demonstrates that some Arizona lawmakers are actually trying to see the bigger picture and think about something other than their own personal religious agenda.
The most shocking rejection of the bill came from Governor Jan Brewer herself. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jan Brewer, here’s a quick refresher:
Brewer has never been one for logic or sanity, but even she “has expressed reservations about this particular piece of legislation.”
So we have Fox News AND Jan Brewer thinking this bill was a bit much. If you think this should be a signal to Lesko and others to let this thing die, you clearly underestimate Lesko’s tenacity (and love for Jesus):
“Even Jesus, under Obama’s definition of a religious employer, would not qualify because he served people of other faith…. This is definitely about the fight to preserve our religious freedom and our First Amendment guaranteed-right for freedom of religion. This is what the whole discussion is about.”
(Note: I’m still trying to source this quote, but I’ve seen it multiple places so I posted it). Now, it’s been a while since I read the New Testament, but I really think if Jesus were around he’d be waving his arms and going “No, no, NOT WHAT I MEANT PLEASE STOP!” From what I remember he was a pretty chill guy who’s main goal was to help those less fortunate, not punish innocent people for no reason. But that’s clearly beside the point here.
So while Arizona women can breathe a sigh of relief, they shouldn’t let their guard down. Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) voted against the bill, but only so she could request a re-vote. This legislation isn’t going to go down easily, but hopefully with enough national pressure we can keep it from passing, and maybe sit back and let Wisconsin take over as Most Insane State for a while.
In the meantime, I’m just going to leave this little quote from Thomas Jefferson right here:
“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.”