Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who takes the first day prize for most outrageous bill? Steve Yarbrough!

Imagine yourself locked in a battle between you and your employer over birth control. Of course, that's not too difficult to imagine, it's a scenario that has been going on repeatedly over the last couple of years in the US. Or how about health care benefits for your same-sex spouse?

Then consider that just today, the US Supreme Court decided it would NOT review a lower court decision that struck down Arizona's 20-week abortion ban.

Well, to Cathi Herrod, this means WAR. Culture war, that is. Her "charity," Center for Arizona Policy is dedicated to that culture war.
Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family and religious liberty.
That, of course, is code for anti-choice, anti-same sex marriage, and for imposing HER brand of religion oriented law (theocracy) on Arizona.

So, less than a week after we learned of the depth ($700,000 plus) of Republican state Sen. Steve Yarbrough's skimming of School Tuition Organization donations, we now see him filing a bill to expressly state that the religious liberty of organizations must take precedence over INDIVIDUAL religious liberty.

Arizona Revised Statutes provide for Civil Rights (Title 41, Chapter 9).

Section 41-1493.01 includes the following:
A. Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.
Steve Yarbrough, with SB 1062 wants to expand the definition of "person."
In other words, not only can a gathered church congregation be allowed to raise holy hands, but ANY association, partnership, corporation, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity -- if Yarbrough, and by extension, Herrod, get their way -- now also will be lawfully allowed to raise holy hands too, if the corporation so chooses. But wait, there's more!

What is keeping a corporation or estate, etc., from praying now? Other than that it is not a living, breathing organism, I suspect, nothing.

So, why would they need THIS legislation?

Section 41-1493.01 also defines the "Exercise of religion." Herrod, er, Yarbrough, wants that definition to now read:
"Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
That may be a minor change, but Herrod's advocacy has shown that she's wanting to codify HER freedom to refuse rights to same-sex couples AND to refuse to provide birth control to women, especially single women.

If you are tempted to think I'm exaggerating by saying Yarbrough's bill would make it so institutions' religious freedom would take precedence over individuals, consider who has more resources available to initiate a legal action to have judges decide whose religious freedom is more important? Recall that it was just last year the legislature enacted ALEC model legislation to restrict the rights of individuals to file class action lawsuits in our state.

So, we've had bills prefiled for a couple of months, but now that the session has officially begun, the floodgates are open. The GOP looney bin is back in business.

I don't know about you, but I don't at all appreciate that Cathi Herrod and Steve Yarbrough think they can codify bigotry in the very Arizona statutes intended to guarantee civil rights to PEOPLE.

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