Arizona governor holding meetings over rights bill

Legislation would allow businesses to refuse service to gays.
Associated Press
Feb 26, 2014

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was holding a series of private meetings Wednesday with opponents and proponents of legislation adding protections for people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays, a proposal that has focused national attention on the state as business groups, gay rights supporters and even many fellow Republicans urged her to use her veto power.

The governor faces a Saturday deadline to either sign Senate Bill 1062 or use her veto stamp. In a tweet from her official twitter account late Tuesday, the governor said: "I assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the State of Arizona."

Brewer has been under increasing pressure to veto the proposal passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The proposal passed with support from all but three House Republicans and all 17 GOP state senators. Three of those senators, however, reversed course Monday and called for the governor to veto the SB1062.

"We were uncomfortable with it to start with and went along with it thinking it was good for the caucus," said Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. "We really didn't want to vote for it. But we made a mistake, and now we're trying to do what's right and correct it."

Their letter to Brewer, however, said the proposal had fallen victim to inaccuracies. Though their intent, they wrote, "was to create a shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance."

Democrats said they warned Republicans who voted for the bill that it was destined for trouble.

"We said this is exactly what is going to happen," said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. "You have a bill here that's so toxic it's going to divide this Legislature. It's going to be polarizing the entire state. And that's exactly what happened."

The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination. Supporters call the bill a slight tweak to the state's existing religious freedom law, which does not extend protections to people based on sexual orientation.

The Senate sponsor, Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, defended the proposal and said his efforts were intended to extend the state's religious freedom law's reach to corporations and allow those sued for discrimination to cite the law even when the government isn't a party. He said a veto would be disappointing.

"I don't think it's a good thing for the state in the sense that I believe the First Amendment means what is says about the free exercise of religion. It's the first freedom in the First Amendment. It's there for a reason," Yarbrough said Tuesday. "And I think we need to take steps to implement that in a meaningful fashion."

Lawyers from across the political spectrum say much of the opponents' arguments that the bill opens the door to discrimination are overblown, but that has not eased the pressure on Brewer to act decisively.

The bill was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal simply clarifies existing state law and is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts.

"What's happened is our opponents have employed a new political tactic, and it's working," said Cathi Herrod, the group's president. "Throw out the threat of a boycott to attempt to defeat a bill, and you might just be able to be successful."

With the business community lining up against the proposal, Brewer could be hard-pressed to sign 1062. She has worked hard to return Arizona's economy to pre-recession levels with business-friendly incentives and tax cuts.

Meanwhile, the bill has brought increasing talk of economic damage to the state, and on Wednesday, the Hispanic National Bar Association said it was cancelling its 2015 convention in Phoenix because of the proposal, becoming one of the first groups to pull an event from that state.

President Miguel Alexander Pozo said the group's board of governors voted unanimously to withdraw, saying "it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice." Last year, the Hispanic National Bar Association's convention drew about 2,000 people to Denver.

Among the businesses urging a veto are Apple Inc., which is opening a manufacturing plant in Mesa, American Airlines, Marriott and GoDaddy. Arizona U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are also calling for a veto.

As Brewer held her meetings Wednesday, a federal judge declared Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but he left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals before do so

The ruling in Texas follows a string of rulings that have struck down gay-marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia.

In Utah, attorneys for three gay and lesbian couples filed their opening brief late Tuesday with a federal appeals court, saying the state's same-sex marriage ban has "cemented discrimination" in the state against gays and their children.

The 118-page argument comes in response to the opening brief filed earlier this month by Utah state attorneys who argued the 2004-voter approved ban should stand because the optimal environment for raising children is with a mother and father.

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Associated Press reporter Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Jesse Holland in Washington contributed.

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Follow Bob Christie at http://twitter.com/APChristie

 

Comments

Darwin's choice

She vetoed the bill......
Gays can continue to hold everyone hostage...

anthras

Its on the news she did veto the bill ergo some persons will lose their rights so the sodomites can have their rights.

44846GWP

The bigots are here I see.

oher332

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Jmschmidt812

Sodomites? I thought this had to do with gay people. As you know straight people also engage in sodomy. So is it the gays you're referring to or all sodomites? And lesbians are they not included in your tantrum either? This happened in Arizona so how does that affect you? The media is only reporting it as being a law that could affect the LGBT community. In case you didn't know, it would affect a lot of people. It could allow discrimination against, Jewish, Muslims, Catholics, and any other religion that frequented a business that didn't want them there. So before you start on the gay bashing educate yourself on the bills entirety.

rottnrog

You can't educate right wing wacko's !!!!

coasterfan

It's funny to hear conservatives try to reframe this discussion, as if it's THEIR rights that are being trampled upon, simply because they aren't being allowed to discriminate against another group of Americans. It's a mindset built on equal amounts of arrogance and ignorance.

Darwin's choice

I knew the sodomy story would get your attention, you practice it right?

Jmschmidt812

You must be looking for a date if your asking.

Darwin's choice

Nope! So you're a practicer too??

You and coaster should hook up!

Jmschmidt812

That's the best come back you have? Ha take some time and try again. Be sure leave your helmet on so you don't hurt yourself.

Contango

Hey, if it's good enough for Pres. "Low Down Club" Obama it's gotta be good right? :)

The Big Dog's back

Only on you durwood.

Contango

Re: "as if it's THEIR rights that are being trampled upon,"

So a business owner should be required to render service to anyone and everyone who comes into their establishment?

Central planners telling everyone how to live:

"a mindset built on equal amounts of arrogance and ignorance."

Informed

If that business is open to the public, then yes, unless that person actually does something in your business or during the transaction that would justify you not serving him/her.

coasterfan

Contango: we already had the exact same discussion in the 1960's over equal rights for minorities. Didn't you get the memo? You're using the same weak arguments that white racists in the South used against blacks to justify discrimination. No, a store owner shouldn't be able to bar someone from their establishment for discriminatory reasons.

A mindset built on equal amounts of arrogance and ignorance, indeed. I suggest you go back to the 1950's where you belong, dude. There is no place in 2014 for Neanderthal thinking of your particular brand. Please take Ted Nugent with you, if you don't mind.

Contango

Re: "No, a store owner shouldn't be able to bar someone from their establishment for discriminatory reasons."

lol.

So Comrade, when are you starting that profitable totally non-discriminatory business , paying top-notch wages along with high quality health and welfare benefits?

Nutty progressive-socialist red-lining legislation worked out well for the housing bubble didn't it?

Force lenders to give mortgages to people of color who couldn't pay and then accuse them of greed when the socialist mess blew up. :)

Contango

Re: "Please take Ted Nugent with you, if you don't mind."

You obviously watch too much TV.

I caught The Amboy Dukes in Hollywood, FL in the early 70s.

Semi-free country; he can say what he wants. Don't much care.

anthras

cfan says: "You're using the same weak arguments that white racists in the South used against blacks to justify discrimination."

Coaster you and the dog tell us many times that if we disagree with Obama's policies or actions that we are just racists. I was wondering that in the news there is a group of black pastors that are in the process of collecting 1 million signatures to have Eric Holder impeached because of his stance on gay marriage ergo are the black pastors racists?
For some of the conservatives you can go to "www.holderimpeachment.com
you can sign the petition or donate to a worthy cause

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2...

BabyMomma

Can't they just hang a sign that says "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" and send them packing?

Donegan

That's funny coming from someone who everyone knows supported Clinton who signed a bill that outlawed Gay marriage. Talk about funny.

Gardenman

Arizonia really should move into the current century and not have their heads stuck in the sand 100 years past.

We talk about and decry bulling in schools but what else are these gay haters doing. This is 2014 folks and some people need to fully embrace the rights and freedoms of all people not just the ones they like.

coasterfan

Awesome comment, Gardenman! You actually described the Republican mindset to a T. Rather than becoming inclusive, they circle the wagons and cultivate an "us vs. them" attitude with constant attacks and legislation aimed at anyone "not like them".

Result: they are an increasingly angry, and increasingly shrinking minority that can't win national elections. The only way they can garner any power is at the state level through gerrymandering and new laws to curb voting rights, in order to disenfranchise voters who typically vote Democrat. If you can't win fair and square by attracting enough voters to your cause, your only choice is to find ways to keep the opposition from voting...

Hatred and discrimination help Fox's ratings and really fires up their core audience of septegenarians, but that mindset doesn't help them much in the real world. They keep trying to force their conservative agenda, but, in state after state, courts and governors continue to push back by (correctly) ruling in favor of non-discrimination.

slightthroat212

Having lived in California and Arizonia, I can tell you from EXPERIENCE, trying to tell an Arizonain to move to the 21st Century is impossible. They don't know they are IN the 21st Century and they do not care. They live how THEY want to live and are proud of it. You should hear their radio ads on not moving their clocks for daylight savings time. They are PROUD of it, too.

This piece of legislature was for one thing and one thing only, to give the rich business people the way to discriminate against whom they saw fit....not just gays, but ANY ONE they saw fit...blacks, mexicans (those in particular because they are overflowing the state), and anyone imported from other countries.

Arizona doesn't like interlopers. They will use anything they can to get around the law and if they can use religion to do so they will. They only had to say it was for "religious reasons" and prove that it was in court and they are home free. Try proving it wasn't. A negative is very hard to prove.

hilltop

. . . . NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE . . . .

Makes perfect sense to me. I have a right, as a businessman to serve whom I please. If I have to make an exception for one group, then I'm stuck making the exception for all.

Contango

Re: ". . . . NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE . . . ."

Obviously the sign of a bigoted business owner.

To the progressive-socialists, you're discriminating against poor people who cannot afford shirts and shoes.

The central planning socialists like to tell business how to operate, even though the vast majority of them couldn't operate a child's corner lemonade stand (remember the business license & health dept inspection) profitably.

coasterfan

Nope. Stupid comparison. "No shirt, no shoes, no service" is a health/safety issue. At some point, our society decided that it's not a good idea to mix dirty feet and bad hygiene with our food supply and in places where people eat together in close quarters.

The only reason to not serve gays is that you wish to discriminate. Nice try. So far, your argument has no legs to stand upon, because there is no moral way to justify your discrimination.

Contango

Re: "health/safety issue."

But it's not uniformly enforced: beach cabanas, drive-thrus, et. al..

Accusing someone of discrimination involves knowing another's intentions.

Enjoy your totalitarian-authoritarian world where thought-crime is punishable, Brother.

Informed

Your example is about something a customer is doing in your business and has nothing to do with who they are.

Informed

Um, no you don't. Not if your business is used by and open to the public, unless that person has done something in your business or during the transaction that would justify you doing so.

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