National Edition

Controversial and heavily debated Arizona bill was all about gays, or was it?

Published: Friday, Feb. 28 2014 1:40 p.m. MST

Veteran blogger Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, writing at The Federalist, declared some in the press as "Dumb, Uneducated, And Eager To Deceive: Media Coverage Of Religious Liberty In A Nutshell," a play on a now-famous Washington Post comment by then-staffer Michael Weisskopf that conservative Christians were "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

Hemingway writes, "In the aftermath of the abominable media coverage of Arizona’s religious liberty bill, an editor shared his hypothesis that journalists care about freedom of speech and of the press because they practice them. And journalists don’t care about freedom of religion because they don’t. But one of the most interesting things about modern media’s deep hostility toward the religious, their religions, and religious liberty in general is that press freedom in America is rooted in religion."

As the blogger notes, a group of 11 law professors, including the University of Virginia's Douglas Laycock and Harvard's Mary Ann Glendon, wrote Brewer before the veto pointing out the facts of SB 1062: "So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision."

While the battle in Arizona is over, at least for the moment, many other state legislatures and/or voters have either considered or are weighing similar bills, making this a topic certain to be revisited in the coming months, as The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog notes.

Email: mkellner@deseretnews.com

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