Thursday, February 27, 2014

Religious "Freedom" Bills: We Got One In Wisconsin Too

Lucky Scott Walker, attention turned to Arizona this week and their completely nuts anti-gay bill SB 1062 which Jan Brewer vetoed last night.

Scooter was able to sneak back to the state and attempt to deflect questions about "those emails" and pretend they were old news while one of his appointees lost his job just this week - 'cause that's how irrelevant those old emails are.

Never worry, the fun and games with those emails are far from over. So let's talk about that Arizona bill...

Did you know that Wisconsin has one just like it, which has already been introduced, has sponsors and had a hearing late last summer?

The main difference is ours, SJR 38, is a state constitutional amendment and would have to pass the legislature twice in two years and then be voted on by the public. Sounds hard - but that's how they got the same sex marriage ban on our constitution.

And THAT was before the GOP gerrymandered the shit out of our state - so don't laugh too hard.

Introduced by Rep. David Craig last May, SJR 38 has a fair number of co-sponsors that won't be much of a surprise: Representatives Jacque, Bernier, Thiesfeldt, Sanfelippo, Ott, Tittl, Stroebel, Brooks, T. Larson, Born, Kestell, Kapenga, Nass, Hutton, Krug, Endsley, and Pridemore (of course) and Senators Liebham, Grothman, Kedzie, Lazich and Moulton.

The Wisconsin joint resolution says pretty much the same thing as the controversial bills in Arizona and Kansas - you can use your "sincerely held religious belief" to do or not do just about anything you want.

Deny a customer a prescription? Sure! No soup for the gay boys? Of course! It's your religion. By all means, let's codify that into our state constitution.

Craig says he was inspired to introduce this legislation because a high school student was prohibited from displaying an artwork depicting a holy bible in a public school exhibition - so naturally, that meant he needed to alter the wording of our 167 year old constitution. He's a do-er.

What he didn't count on was the wording of his bill was so broad that "right of conscience" could mean almost anything that any nut or hater wanted it to - including not serving gays or minorities in your restaurant, refusing to issue marriage licenses for interracial couples, or start your own religion which says you don't have to pay taxes or wear pants.

This broad and naive wording was the same kind of trap that caught 3 Arizona State Senators unaware - after they voted in favor of SB 1062 and had to go on national news to say they changed their minds.

SJR 38 has not really gone anywhere - but it did get voted out of committee and it could get taken up if someone wants to. The Siren thinks it is worth asking Craig and his list of sponsors exactly how they feel about this amendment in light of the Arizona controversy and do they still support it?

H/T to Aaron Camp and Heather Asiyanbi who wrote about the bill at the time.