WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the passage of SB 1062 in the Arizona State Legislature, Interfaith Alliance president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, released the following statement urging Governor Brewer to veto the bill:
“As an American citizen, a Christian pastor, an interfaith leader and a devoted supporter of civil rights for all people, I am deeply pained by the recent passage of Senate Bill 1062 in the Arizona State Legislature. I am offended that this piece of legislation – which gives broad license to individuals and private businesses to deny services and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals – has been peddled as an act of religious freedom. In truth, it is a gross distortion of the principles of religious freedom that have made our nation great.
The Interfaith Alliance has long championed the promise of the First Amendment: that the religious rights of individuals will always be protected and that no religious doctrine shall ever be established as law. Though supporters of SB 1062 seek to camouflage this act as a means of supporting religious freedom, responsible citizens must see it for the dangerous development that it is. The provisions of this bill have no basis in the long history of the First Amendment and its passage would only serve as a regressive decision, endangering the constitutional rights of Arizona’s LGBT residents. I hope that religious leaders across the nation will make it clear that legislation like this has no place in the religious traditions it purports to protect. The fact that its supporters are using faith to justify discrimination is antithetical to any religious tradition of which I am aware.
Sadly, similar developments in state legislatures from Ohio to South Dakota, as well as a recent speech on religious liberty by Republican presidential hopeful Governor Bobby Jindal, demonstrate that this abuse of religious freedom extends far beyond Arizona. Such state actions threaten the integrity of our nation’s constitutional guarantee of civil rights for all people, not to mention the constitution’s protection of religious liberty from prostitution by people seeking to use legislation to establish their particular sectarian views. I call on Governor Jan Brewer to veto this hateful bill in order to protect the rights of LGBT Arizonans and to restore a measure of sanity to the religious freedom debate in America.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.