The editor of the National Review has condemned the hypocrites who attacked the religious freedom bill in Arizona that was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Although the bill gave business owners to right to refuse service to same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs, Rich Lowry maintains in an opinion piece for Politico
that critics have badly missed the point.
"The question isn't whether businesses run by people opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should provide their services for gay weddings; it is whether they should be compelled to by government," wrote Lowry, the editor of the twice-monthly conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955.
"The critics of the much-maligned Arizona bill pride themselves on their live-and-let-live open-mindedness, but they are highly moralistic in their support of gay marriage, judgmental of those who oppose it and tolerant of only one point of view on the issue — their own.
"For them, someone else's conscience is only a speed bump on the road to progress. It's get with the program, your religious beliefs be damned."
The bill SB1062 came under fire from gay rights activists who claimed that it discriminated against homosexuals and lesbians, and that it was unconstitutional.
But Lowry threw his support behind the opinion of 11 legal experts on religious freedom statutes who had written to Brewer before her veto saying that bill has been "egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics."
He pointed out that the legislation consisted of minor clarifications of Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was enacted 15 years ago and was based on the bipartisan federal law former President Bill Clinton signed into law in the 1990s.
The legal experts argued that the federal law says that "before government can burden a person's religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification."
Lowry added, "So Arizona's changes weren't radical but in keeping with a federal law once championed by none other than Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"A religious freedom statute doesn't give anyone carte blanche to do whatever he wants in the name of religion. It simply allows him to make his case in court that a law or a lawsuit substantially burdens his religion, and that there is no compelling governmental interest to justify the burden.
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