by James C. Nelson, Justice, Montana Supreme Court (Retired)
Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer said she’d do the right thing, and she did. Good for her; she made the correct decision.
The right decision for the right reason would have been for her to say outright that Senate Bill 1062 was simply religious bigotry against LGBT people and had no place in Arizona’s civil code. End of story; end of bill.
Instead, Governor Brewer vetoed the proposed law because of the outcry of big business. Corporate America – hailed by some in the popular media as a “beacon of progress” – has come to realize that conservative religious zealotry hurts the bottom line. Bigotry and business seemingly don’t make good bedfellows any more – as they may well have when the conservative Christian Right was in its heyday not too many years ago.
I suggest what is happening here is not that Corporate America has suddenly developed a social and moral conscience. Rather, big business does what it always does where constitutional rights are concerned. If embracing those rights adds luster to the “brand” and dollar signs to the bottom line, then count the big guys in. If the opposite is true -- equal pay and freedom of choice for women -- for example, well that’s likely to be another story. In the end, greed usually trumps God, and that’s what happened here.
But am I complaining that the LGBT Community won this round in the way it did? No I am not. A win is a win; and if one’s frenemies are on your side in the battle, we all get to bask in the victory.
But before America’s newest beacons of progress get complacent on this issue, be aware that other States are still in the process of putting “right to discriminate” laws in play – Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee and Utah.
All of us who are committed to equality under the law won this battle; but the war is not over. We’ll take the win; and we’ll take your help Corporate America.
Homophobic discrimination is wrong for the right reasons – and for the wrong reasons as well. Pick your weapon; it’s the result that matters.