Jeffrey Toobin for The New Yorker: ARIZONA’S ANTI-GAY BILL LIVES ON IN HOBBY LOBBY

March 4th, 2014

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The New Yorker
by Jeffrey Toobin
March 4, 2014

Last week, there was an outbreak of political sanity and good feeling that felt almost unprecedented in recent history. Earlier this year, both houses of the Arizona legislature passed S.B. 1062, which would have given individuals and businesses the right to refuse service to any customer on religious grounds. The impetus for the bill was a New Mexico court judgment against a wedding photographer who refused to take pictures at a same-sex wedding. The reaction to the Arizona bill was thunderous—and almost universally negative. Civil-rights and gay-rights groups opposed the bill, of course, but so did most large employers in Arizona; its two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake; and even some of the state legislators who voted for it. Governor Jan Brewer took the hint and vetoed the bill.

This was welcome news, to be sure, but it’s worth teasing out just what was wrong with S.B. 1062—and how those precepts may or may not come into play down the line. The law was so vaguely and broadly worded that it was possible to imagine all sorts of invidious applications: kids turned down for day care because they have two mommies, same-sex couples barred from restaurants. It looked like an official government sanction for second-class citizenship for gay people—and anyone else whom religious groups did not favor.

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