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Arizona bill hides discrimination behind religion


As expected, I couldn’t get through the first paragraph of “Religious freedom bill riles gay rights supporters” (Feb. 21) without reading something objectionable as the flaws went from start to finish. Discrimination has a way of mutating and adapting to the times with overt, in-your-face bigotry no longer cool. Lynching black men occurred most frequently from 1890 to the 1920s as the Reconstruction Era aroused anxiety among white Southerners who opposed ceding equal social status to the children and grandchildren of inferior former slaves. “Religious freedom” is such a nebulous, personal choice that, similar to “Stand Your Ground” laws, defies the one-size-fits-all compression that laws must adhere to. Constitutional rights must always surpass religious beliefs, and this is the logic behind separation of church and state if the two ever come in conflict, which we’re told is happening in Arizona.

America is called the great “melting pot,” as people from all ethnicities, nations and religious backgrounds come together to live as one people. Inevitably, overlapping lifestyles are bound to conflict but not necessarily cause conflict due to the separation of church and state. Behind closed doors in private you can cite whatever claim you have to religion, but stepping out into the melting pot, your religion must play nice with other lifestyles that are constitutionally protected. Whereas religion is a choice, there’s no choice to conform to constitutionally protected behavior.

The Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group opposing constitutionally protected choice (abortion) and soon-to-be-protected gay marriage, says the proposed law in Arizona “is needed to protect against activist federal courts.” Active in protecting constitutionally protected behavior? To be opposed is merely hiding discrimination behind religion, which is no match in public where our constitution reigns supreme.

Jay Lustgarten

Westerly



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