Kansas got the memo. Indiana got the memo. Arizona refuses to read the memo. The state Senate just passed SB 1062 which allows anyone to discriminate against gays at any time if they are doing so out of ‘religious conviction’.
Arizona Democrats did their most unexceptional to stop the bill.
Senate Democrats in Arizona attempted to derail the law with eight amendments, which were quickly disposed of by the Republican majority. The Democrats also warned that Arizona is in for another round of being shunned by businesses, conventions, and tourists who don’t appreciate the continual hanging of a “NOT Welcome” sign. That would echo what happened in 1993 when Arizona lost $500 million and the Super Bowl over its refusal to approve the Martin Luther King holiday. Or in 2010, when companies avoided Arizona en masse over the outrageous anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, issued a warning:
I think this bill makes a statement … that we don’t welcome people here. This bill gets in the way. This bill sends the wrong message around the country and around the world.
So did Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix:
The heart of this bill would allow for discrimination versus gays and lesbians. You can’t argue the fact that the bill will invite discrimination. That’s the point of this bill. It is.
Republican allegiance is to fundamentalist Christians.
But the diehard Republicans in the legislature know which asses they want to kiss, and they’re white, heterosexual, fundamentalist Christian ones — the business community be damned. Local columnist E.J. Montini describes it very well, and a bit more politely, in the following video. He says it’s a ‘solution in search of a problem’:
A similar bill is making its way through the state House and heading for certain approval. The Senate version is much like a measure initiated last year by the same senator, Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, but vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. The current bill has been changed, by the removal of a provision about suing the government for infringing on religious beliefs, in the hope that Brewer will sign it.
Yarbrough, of course, insisted that the measure isn’t about what it’s really about. During the senate debate, he said:
This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.
He believes that “one’s faith, at least in America” should be “extended to the workplace, to the public square and to all aspects of our lives.” And that means being able to refuse service to anyone, based on the claim of religious conviction.
Okay, then, countered Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix. If a hotel worker believes that Mormonism is a cult, he can refuse a room to a family wearing Brigham Young t-shirts. Or, as Sen. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, pointed out, Satanists can also use the law to their advantage. Or any ‘faith’ that is as narrow, biased, and mean-spirited as fundamentalist Christianity — if there is such a one.
Doesn’t matter to Yarbrough and his cronies. Possibly they think Christians have a God-given immunity to consequences. However, they certainly have to appease the ultra-conservative Center for Arizona Policy, which is behind most of the Christian-oriented and anti-choice legislation in the state.
One can hope that Gov. Jan Brewer is more concerned with the business community than with narrow religious oppression, and will veto the bill when it hits her desk next week. If not, let the backlash — and the boycotts — begin.