by Abe Sauer
While Kentucky’s courts (maybe) legalize same-sex marriage, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed Senate Bill 1062. That bill would have amended Arizona’s 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to give anyone an exemption from any state law that interferes with their free exercise of religion. Like Arizona, Kansas recently killed a similar bill. Georgia, Tennessee and South Dakota (especially South Dakota!) have dosey-doed with the similar laws. (Meanwhile, the media has been calling these “Gay Jim Crow,” laws which has to make the already terrible daily existence of anyone named James Crow even more unbearable.)
But has anyone in these states thought about how they’re going to get a cab if these laws pass?
For years now, municipalities have been running into legal tangles with Muslim taxi drivers who refuse service on religious grounds.
In Minneapolis in 2007, airport officials reported that about 100 passengers each month were refused taxi service for religious reasons, with the total logged refusals between 2002 and 2008 numbering 5,200. Most of these cases involved Muslim drivers who, citing religious reasons, declined to pick up passengers carrying alcohol or those accompanied by dogs, acts that, outlined in a statement from Minnesota’s Muslim American Society, involved “cooperating in sin according to Islam.”
And it’s not just a U.S. problem. One Toronto Sun columnist was scandalized after a Muslim driver refused to allow her dachsie Kishka into his car.
In 2008, Minnesota’s Muslim taxi drivers lost their battle in court, with the state’s court of appeals ruling that drivers could be penalized according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s rules. Those rules suspend the license of drivers for 30 days for refusing a pick-up. A second infraction brings a two-year revocation.
By the looks of it, Arizona’s SB1062 — and its cousins — would allow Muslim drivers the freedom to conduct their radical Islamic transportation jihads against dogs and booze.
Can you guess how conservative reactions differed when it comes to the merits of these two points of view on religious freedom? You don’t have to!
Just over two months ago, Glenn Beck-founded conservative site The Blaze reported the story of a blind man whose assistant dog was repeatedly refused taxi service on religious grounds. The comments on the piece are, almost without exception, not on the side of the drivers’ religious freedoms (with a dose of racism for good measure).
Meanwhile, The Blaze also just ran a story about the Arizona bill that would allow Christians to refuse service to gays. Can you guess which side most of the conservative commenters are on now?