Contrary to what many in the mainstream media have claimed, the conservative Christian group that backed and drafted Arizona’s Religious Freedom Law has not been pouting since Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed the measure. In fact, the organization is actually celebrating the fact that 123 of the bills it has supported since its inception in 1995 have been signed into law.
The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) is Arizona’s leading pro-life, pro-family organization. As the Huffington Post pointed out, the day after Brewer vetoed Arizona’s Religious Freedom Law (SB 1062), the state House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (HB 2884), a bill that was also backed and co-drafted by CAP. This bill seeks to allow unannounced inspections of abortion clinics when, “consistent with standard medical practices,” it is determined that “there is reasonable cause to believe an abortion clinic is not adhering to the licensing requirements… concerning abortion.”
After Brewer’s veto of SB 1062, however, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow pronounced as practically dead religious freedom when it comes to same-sex marriage.
Observing that Arizona is one of nine states that have “tabled or vetoed or deferred or withdrawn” similar religious freedom measures, Maddow said, “It’s never over ’til it’s over for things like this, for this experiment in conservative governance, but if these nine states are anything to go by… it is starting to look like this one’s over.”
In addition, there are people like sports analyst and former Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, who compared Arizona to Nazi Germany.
“Arizona has become, in recent years, the most recalcitrant, backward-looking state in the country when it comes to social change,” said Kornheiser on his ESPN show Pardon the Interruption. “They were the last to ratify Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. They have this bill which enabled police to stop somebody and say, ‘Because we think you’re an illegal alien.’ And now you have this, with gay people. How are they supposed to be identified? Should they wear a yellow star, because my people went through that at one point.”
Given the liberal media hyperbole and myths surrounding SB 1062, a two-page bill in which the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or similar terms are never even mentioned, Aaron Baer, Communications Director of CAP, says his organization was taken aback at how their “simple bill was blown up into something else.”
“There’s no doubt that misinformation about SB 1062 came from the left’s PR camp on same-sex marriage,” Baer said in an interview with Breitbart News. “They framed it as something it is not, and the governor vetoed a bill that didn’t actually exist.”
“To say we were surprised is actually an understatement,” Baer continued. “Last year when we ran a virtually identical religious freedom bill, we had none of this outrage that we saw with SB 1062. It was relatively quiet with no concerns from the business community. And that bill had even less protections from abuses than 1062.”
Baer noted that Brewer vetoed that bill as well.
“During that period, she said she would veto all bills, regardless of their content, until she received a bill to expand Medicaid in keeping with ObamaCare,” he said. “Our religious freedom bill was one of the measures she vetoed simply because the legislature had not yet passed the Medicaid expansion bill.”
Among the CAP-backed measures that have been signed into law is Arizona’s 2008 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.
“Some people say government should get out of the marriage business,” Baer said. ” But government is in the business of marriage because marriage enhances society. We’d like to have honest discussions about why marriage matters, and about religious freedom, but, from the left, all we seem to get are personal attacks.”
Baer discussed the fact that many on the left are making the argument that discrimination against marrying someone of the same gender is the same as that against marriage between mixed races.
“Marriage is color-blind, but not gender-blind. Government is invested in defining marriage,” Baer explained. “It doesn’t seem to care about other relationships, but it knows that marriage benefits society, because procreation is important to society. Marriage between a man and a woman is the most stable environment in which to raise healthy and happy children who will, in turn, contribute positively to society.”
Baer said CAP has been successful in passing 123 bills, 60 in the last five years alone.
“We come from a biblical, Christian worldview, but we bring sound public policy to the table when we advocate for a bill,” he explained. “We have a blueprint for how to advance sound, conservative public policy, and we make the case for that policy in the public square.”
Despite CAP’s successes, Baer acknowledges that the organization and conservatives in general still have a long way to go in confronting misinformation.
“In our present-day culture, erotic freedom is valued over religious freedom,” he said. “But this issue of religious freedom is not going away. The courts and the Obama administration misinterpret religious freedom law and deny people their religious freedom.”
“There is a growing sentiment that because you go to work, you lose your religious freedom in the workplace. Because you’re out of the house, you must comply with what the government deems is appropriate,” Baer asserted. “This is the antithesis of what the framers of this nation intended.”
However, Baer said that CAP remains very positive and optimistic about future legislation.
“The next day after Brewer vetoed SB 1062, the media was saying we had suffered a ‘big loss,'” he said. “But we were right back at the state capital, working on other pieces of legislation, like the Women’s Health Protection Act (HB 2884).”
“We’re pushing on and working every day,” Baer said. “We’re not going anywhere.”