A lot of emotions have been fired up due to Arizona’s SB 1062 [PDF] bill. If you’re not familiar with the number this is the bill in Arizona that would grant business owners of that state the legal ability to refuse to provide goods and services to homosexual and transgendered persons for religious reasons. The debate over this bill has gotten pretty heated. One side believes that this bill must be stopped because it enables discrimination and the other side believes the bill should be passed because it allows business owners to choose who they wish to associate with. Many libertarians are in the latter camp because of their support for voluntary association. I, insofar as I care about the bill, oppose it.
As a strong advocate of voluntary association how could I oppose a bill that would seemingly advance a business owner’s legal ability to choose he or she wishes to associate with? Simple. This bill doesn’t advance voluntary association, it creates another privileged class.
If you read through the bill it grants business owners the legal ability to refuse service to individuals (the bill doesn’t specifically state homosexual and transgendered persons) if providing that service would go against their religious beliefs. In other words if a business owner refuses services to somebody and that individual sues then the business owner can say that providing services to that person would have violated his or her religious beliefs and it would be a valid legal defense. So this law means religious individuals gain the legal privilege to discriminate against other individuals while nonreligious people do not.
Voluntary association allows any individual to choose who he or she wishes to associate with regardless of reason. This bill allows religious individual to choose who he or she wishes to associate with while leaving nonreligious people unable to do so. As longtime readers of this blog know I’m against providing legal privileges to specific groups. All should be equal under the law. Any attempt to grant specific groups privileges, which is what SB 1062 does, should be opposed in my opinion.