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USA, Arizona: Amazing Letter from A Scottsdale Rabbi to Governor Brewer

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Just got this from my Aunt in Tucson who is following the whole Right to Discriminate law with great interest and disgust. It was written by Rabbi Stephen Kahn, of Scottsdale’s Congregation Beth Israel.

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Rabbi Stephen KahnFebruary 21, 2014

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Governor Brewer:

I am the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, founded in 1920. I write this with a heavy heart on behalf of our 750 families (roughly 2,000 members). Today, I respectfully implore you to act with bold and courageous leadership by vetoing House Bill 2153 and Senate Bill 1062 without delay.

Simply put, these bills are beyond “controversial”. Among many things, the final version of the legislation enables a business owner to refuse services to any patron based on their own personal religious proclivities, or even worse, a very loose definition of religious freedom. I cannot help but recall the spirit of the Third Reich’s laws established in 1935 at Nuremberg which legally permitted discrimination and anti-Semitism under the same implicit legislative construct as the bills passed earlier this week. As a Jew, I cannot help but feel that if a business owner, who is “informed” by their interpretation of “scripture” that a Jewish person cannot eat at their restaurant because I do not accept Christ as “Savior” that they would indeed have the legally supported permission to deny me service in their place of business.

As an American, I will always fully support the constitutionally protected rights of every citizen; the right of free expression of their own religious beliefs and convictions whether or not I personally/theologically agree with their beliefs or practices. However, as an American, a Jew and a Rabbi, I know that religious freedom does not permit me the right to oppress or discriminate against others because I think their theology or way of life is wrong. This is the antithesis of constitutional freedoms and the foundation of our country. The potential – both implicitly and explicitly – of legalizing a person or person’s right to persecute and discriminate against others under the guise of religious freedom is both intellectually objectionable and theologically corrupt of any scriptural justification I know of, especially in a free society.

Please do no sign this legislation which – based on historic precedent for our people in 1930’s Nazi Germany – could become THE seminal moment which will lead to horrifying consequences for the People of Arizona.

Respectfully,

Rabbi Stephen Kahn

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Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

USA, Arizona: Pressure Mounting on Governor Jan Brewer

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan BrewerAs the deadline approaches for Arizona’s Governor to sign or veto the “Right to Discriminate” bill, pressure is mounting.

In Phoenix and Tucson, protests were held against the bill.

Towleroad.com reports:

Major protests took place this evening in Phoenix and Tucson in opposition to the bill passed by the Arizona legislature that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. CNN’s AC360 led off their show live from the protests in Phoenix.

Also on CNN, Anderson Cooper grilled one of the Arizona GOP reps supporting the bill. It’s amazing – he just sticks to his talking points and refuses to admit the bill could be used to ban anyone other than LGBT folks from any business in the state. Joe.My.God tipped us to this one.

Meanwhile, AZ Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan is appalled. Joe.My.God reports on her tweets:

“The state that I grew up in and love so much is literally making discriminating against citizens legal. HOW IS THIS AMERICAN OR RIGHT?” and “The Arizona legislature should be ashamed of themselves. This bill is un-American and embarrassing for all of Arizona and the country.” and finally “@GovBrewer please do the right thing for ALL Arizonans and veto SB 1062 or be the governor remembered for legalizing discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the Treasurer and Secretary of state (both Republicans) are also urging the Governor to veto the bill.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Arizona’s Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Treasurer Doug Ducey, both GOP candidates for governor, say a bill allowing business owners to refuse to serve gays by citing their religious beliefs should be vetoed. Bennett and Ducey join the growing list of state leaders and Republican gubernatorial candidates who say Gov. Jan Brewer should veto the bill, SB 1062, that was passed in the state legislature this week.

And the same article cites the economic damage the bill is already doing before being signed into law:

Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said his office had quick reaction to the bill, telling KPHO-TV that four companies considering expansion in the Phoenix area have crossed Arizona off their lists. Another business that was planning to invest $100 million in the state has put its deal on hold, and two companies indicated today that they’ve been fired, because the clients don’t want to do business in Arizona, said Broome. Broome said the controversial bill will complicate the state’s brand, just as it is gearing up to host next year’s Super Bowl. “If the governor doesn’t veto this bill, the effect on Arizona will be instantaneous and devastating,” he said.

Arizona’s other US Senator, Jeff Flake, tweeted his opposition too.

Joe.My.God reports:

“I hope Governor Brewer vetoes SB 1062.” Flake is no ally of the LGBT community and has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. But to my mind that only makes today’s move only more important as it probably comes from the standpoint of what the bill could mean for Arizona’s economy.

So what will Brewer do? AZCentral looks for clues:

The Republican governor plans to meet with advisers in and out of her office, members of the business community, lawmakers and others as she weighs whether to sign the bill into law, her advisers said. “They’ll go over every aspect of the bill — the pros and the cons, the risks — all of it,” said one insider familiar with the inner workings of the Governor’s Office and how Brewer approaches legislation. “In this instance, you have a bill that had a party-line vote. It puts her in a difficult spot.” Brewer was in Washington, D.C., attending a conference of governors and wasn’t expected to return until Tuesday. But some factions set to work Friday attempting to influence her decision.

According to AZCentral, the bill would likely actually reach her desk Monday, s I guess that gives her until Friday to make the decision?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.