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Monday, March 3, 2014
NewsBusters Still Trying To Spin Arizona Anti-Gay Bill As 'Religious Freedom'
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters remains in denial mode, insisting that the proposed Arizona "religious freedom" law wasn't really about discriminating against gays.

In a Feb. 26 post, Jeffrey Meyer actually did acknowledge that it was about gays, but huffed that an MSNBC panel "disregarded the religious freedom argument associated with SB 1062," adding: "MSNBC could have had a serious discussion on the merits of this bill and whether or not SB 1062 needed to be clarified to ensure that businesses cannot simply deny services to individuals for being gay but still protect companies such as florists and bakeries from being forced to service a gay wedding. Unfortunately, no such discussion occurred on Morning Joe, as the liberal media has chosen to bully supporters of the bill to prevent actual discussion about religious freedom and gay rights from occurring."

 In another Feb. 26 post, Meyer complained that "MSNBC seems to be perfectly content presenting SB 1062 solely as an 'anti-gay' bill rather than discussing the merits of whether or not the state should force private businesses to participate in a gay wedding if it goes against their religious beliefs."

A Feb. 27 post by Ken Shepherd stated that the Wall Street Journal "portrayed accurately the religious freedom legislation" (by framing it as "religious freedom") while "the headers for the print stories at the Washington Post and New York Times were loaded." Shepherd pretended it wasn't an anti-gay bill:

As such, SB 1062 is not an "anti-gay" statute which green-lights discrimination. It's a bill which tightens the legal standards for levying damages against a defendant in civil court for not providing a service when that business owner cites religious conviction as the reason for not providing said service.


Again, the law itself is content neutral, it's about protecting religious conscience. It could just as well be used by a person sued in court for refusing to cater a strip club's Christmas party or an abortion lobby's fundraising gala out of religious objections to participating in and condoning sin.

While Shepherd conceded that "a lawsuit in neighboring New Mexico against a Christian photographer had been the impetus for the legislation," he failed to mention that it involved photographing a same-sex couple -- and, thus, continued ignoring the fact that anti-gay sentiment was really the "impetus" for the bill.

Randy Hall asserted that the bill could not possibly be targeting gays because "the word 'gay' was not mentioned in the legislation."

On March 2, Meyer again complained that the media was "portraying SB 1062 as an anti-gay bill without ever giving the religious freedom argument consideration."

The next day, Meyer went after the Daily Beast's Kirsten Powers for her "outright mischaracterization of a the motives of proponents of the now-vetoed bill" by pointing out that the bill "is very much about gayness." Citing the case against one photographer who refused to shoot a same-sex wedding, Meyer retorted: "But the proprietors of Elane Photography do NOT have a problem with rendering photographic services for gay persons, just with photographing activities which they consider sinful and offensive to the conscience, including nude photo shoots." Meyer added: "Powers may be unaware of those facts, but she should educate herself on the issue and not SLANDER her fellow evangelical Christians for their sincere religious beliefs."

But why must gays be discriminated against in situations like this? How does he know that the photographer's religious beliefs were "sincere"? Shouldn't the sincerity of the same-sex couple's relationship also be taken into consideration?

Meyer then asserted that the proposed bill really wasn't about discrimination:

Powers provided no evidence that SB 1062 would result in a wave of anti-discrimination in Arizona, and there is no evidence that the law would authorize discrimination. It’s highly unlikely we would have seen a wave of discrimination because businesses could get sued and deal with the subsequent legal costs. Would many small businesses want, or be able to afford, such costs associated with a lawsuit simply to “discriminate” against gay people? Yes, under SB 1062, they could recover court costs in the event of winning the case, but the court hassle to get there is not worth it for most folks.

But as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer noted when she vetoed the bill, it "does not seek to address a specific and present concern related to Arizona businesses," and the out-of-state examples "are not issues currently existing in Arizona. So the law addressed a problem that did not exist, which raises legitimate questions about the motivation of its proponents. Any chance Meyer will acknowledge that?

(Image: Uptown Magazine)

Posted by Terry K. at 11:25 PM EST

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