(Note: I found it difficult to understand both sides equally but I find it important to not straw-man one side. I can empathize but not agree. )
When the Arizona SB 1062 bill was vetoed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, many (including me) were relieved. The bill seemed to support blatant discrimination under the cover of ‘free exercise of religion’. On the actual bill it reads:
2. “exercise of religion ” means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
For the religious this probably seems like a reasonable protection. They fear having to accept people that are inherently unacceptable in their beliefs. Also a fear of their holy places being infiltrated if they accept certain people in their businesses. Fear from change and tradition. Unfortunately, included are the bigots who use their religion to segregate and discriminate. Many times we feel that all who would support them are of of the last ilk but people are well versed in cognitive dissonance and fail to see the ramifications for themselves. For example, someone quoting anti-gay scripture in Leviticus but ignoring similar passages about not wearing blended fabric. In scripture both are equally wrong yet I find it unlikely that I will be turned away for my polo shirt. Selection bias combined with the ability to manufacture any belief system possible, negates any type of special right to discriminate. I would find it interesting to find out how two religions directly opposing each other would be? Which side would the law be on?
Another part of the bill would protect the religious from:
D. A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding…
This overprotection would empower bigotry and leave the discriminated against no legal recourse. Some might say that the refused customer could just take their business elsewhere. In a large metropolitan area, that is an option but in a small community where resources are controlled by a small nucleus of businesses owners, there would be no option other than to to move. Making an already insular community more isolated and displaced people who’s only crime is non conformity.
When entering into a public business it is inherent that an array of differing people are going to access that business. It is not an infringement for you to treat them equally. If not, make your business private and only available to others in your belief system. Let people who truly treat people equally have the right to benefit from a public business.