By the time you read this, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may well have vetoed SB 1062, the “protecting religious liberty” act. And she bloody well should have. Before you begin composing an indignant rebuke in the comments section, take a deep breath and read on. I’m a libertarian. I’m also a capitalist. As such, I deplore any efforts to involve government in my life, my thoughts and my wallet beyond what’s absolutely necessary.
Presuming she hasn’t done so already, here are five reasons Brewer should do to SB 1062 what hiring Piers Morgan did to CNN’s ratings:
- It’s pointless. SB 1062 is an amendment to Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1999. But we already enjoy religious liberty in this country; it’s guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The fact that some hyper-litigious malcontents in New Mexico and Oregon missed that lecture in cheap-payday school doesn’t mean Arizona needs to erect legal barriers against the lawsuit lottery set.
- It won’t work. It’s actually written backward. You can’t claim your religious mores have been attacked by someone who doesn’t attack them. In order for SB 1062 to apply, you would have to refuse service to someone else and then get sued for doing so. That’s the legal version of closing the barn door after the cows have taken to the field. Moreover, unless a customer literally dances into your establishment wearing a rainbow flag-emblazoned T-shirt and belting out Bette Midler tunes, I’m unclear as to how you’re going to sort out his sexual identity. The last time I checked, gays don’t wear nametags.
- It’s bad business. If you don’t want to accommodate someone at your establishment, you’re already welcome to do so. In fact, presuming you’re willing to forgo his patronage (and, therefore, his money), feel free to do so. But a true capitalist doesn’t turn away paying customers because of the customer’s romantic preferences. It’s one thing if a customer behaves poorly, is abusive or is crude. It’s quite another if the customer has a summer home in Provincetown, 400 pairs of Prada shoes or front-row seats to the next Liza Minnelli concert. As anyone who sells anything can attest, business owners are going to have to deal with unpleasant customers, though gays are not necessarily unpleasant. If you turned away every one of them, you’d be hard-pressed to keep your business open. That’s pretty much antonymous with capitalism.
- The Democrats essentially supported it, until they didn’t. The key language in SB 1062 is virtually identical to the key language in the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. That bill, which was co-written and co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), passed a Democratic-majority House and Democratic-majority Senate by wide margins, and it was immediately signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Now, the Democrats are attacking Arizona like enraged Africanized death fleas over a bill they considered a wonderful addition to their legislative resumes at the Federal level. If Brewer vetoes SB 1062, she’ll simultaneously blunt their attacks and expose their hypocrisy; and that kind of double whammy never gets old.
- It’s a solution in search of a problem. SB 1062 was inspired, at least in part, by execrable lawsuits filed against a photographer and baker in New Mexico and Oregon, respectively. Both those suits represented disgracefully abusive litigation. The proper response would involve punishing the filers of frivolous lawsuits in New Mexico and Oregon (and anywhere else, for that matter) — not countering government overreach with more government overreach. Big Bubba’s BBQ ’n’ Oyster Shack cannot serve Muslim or Jewish customers. Neither group needs government interference in their non-transactions. Jews and Muslims can eat somewhere else. And Bubba can keep on dishing up the Brunswick Stew ’n’ Po’ Boys. By enacting SB 1062, the government is affording Bubba protection he doesn’t need from actions Maury and Mahmoud should, and probably will, never take.