Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on marriage in 2015, religious freedom has been quite the topic across the country. A bitter fight has become exasperated between traditionalists and modernists throughout the country, and the divide has even spread within the Republican Party.
The past couple weeks have been ground zero for this battle being waged in cities and states across the country. Several states have been debating religious freedom laws; Target allowed transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity; and Curt Schilling got fired from ESPN for getting in the middle of the controversy sweeping the nation. It has become abundantly clear yet again that religious freedom is under attack in more ways than one in this country.
Because it is not the “cool” thing to do these days, it is exceedingly admirable when elected officials do stand up for religious freedom in the face of hostile pressure. Votes and actions to protect and to defend religious freedom take courage in this day and age, and will continue to fall few and far between.
Though Carlyle Begay has been hailed as “courageous” for bucking his former party and switching to the Republican Party in 2015, his record on religious freedom is less than courageous and principled. Even before SB 1062 became a firestorm in 2014, he voted against it in the Arizona Senate, joining most of his Democratic colleagues, and opposing most of his future Republican “cohorts.”
Carlyle Begay may act like a Republican and vote like a Republican more often than he once did, but his past votes – highlighted by his SB 1062 vote – show Arizona primary voters exactly where he stands on an issue that still filters out the contenders from the pretenders in Republican primary elections. Unlike fellow candidates Babeu and Bennett, Begay actually had a chance to vote on a bill that sought to strengthen religious freedom in Arizona – he could have done something about it.
He did not.
CD-1 Republicans, take note!