If Oregon Passes this Religious Freedom Initiative, I Will (Still Never) Move to Arizona

Jan Brewer

By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly

This is a confusing and hopeful time for advocates or marriage equality in Oregon. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would no longer defend the state ban on same-sex marriage, and perhaps the ballot measure for marriage equality stalls while lawsuits plays out (more on that soon, in our next issue). Things are looking up, but there’s still a looming threat: The Protect Religious Freedom Initiative.

When I first heard about the ballot measure to back in November I was surprised. I thought, “That really seems like something a red state would do.” And as if they heard my thoughts, a bunch of red states decided that they would do just that through their state legislatures. Kansas tried to do it but they pulled back from the brink, and there were rumblings in Tennessee, Idaho, and Arizona that similar bills would emerge. Out nowhere Arizona jumped to the forefront in the last few weeks, pushing a bill quickly through its legislature, making it all the way to governor’s desk. But after some deliberation–and lots of pressure from the business community–Jan Brewer vetoed it. Which I found surprising considering she passed S.B. 1070, allowing local law enforcement to stop and arrest anyone even suspected of being an illegal immigrant (which basically meant people who look Hispanic), and gutted Planned Parenthood in her state. It seemed over, that the states would try to forget about their bouts of madness and move on but then right after Arizona vetoed their bill Missouri proposed an exact clone of it.

In the end in Arizona it didn’t really seem to come down to ideas of fairness and equality, but rather, the bad press loss of business. The Super Bowl is set to be played in Arizona next year and pressure from businesses began to mount on Brewer. This would have been the second time the Super Bowl was taken from Arizona (in 1990 the NFL took the Super Bowl away from Arizona for refusing to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday… really!? REALLY ARIZONA!?). Also, that’s pretty hilarious of the NFL considering the NFL executives who were not sure the league was ready for an openly gay player.

I feel like I’ve lost my place.

Oh, yes. Now Oregon is going down the same road as Arizona. And sure, it only applies to wedding related businesses. But it’s the principle of the matter. Mike Marshall, campaign manager for Oregon United for Marriage said this in a statement:

“At a moment when Oregonians should be celebrating the imminent end of discrimination against loving, committed couples, we’re gearing up to fight this effort to write discrimination back into our laws. This hurtful measure weakens our current anti-discrimination laws so that corporations and commercial businesses can discriminate against gay and lesbian couples by denying them services on their wedding day. Freedom means freedom for everyone, and it is wrong to treat people differently because of who they are and who they love.”

I’m going to end with that because it’s much nicer than anything I could come up with.

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