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Time to End “Swiss Cheese” Equality

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Gay RightsFollowing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill aimed at allowing businesses and service providers to refuse to serve LGBT people, it’s time for those of us pushing back on efforts to misuse religious liberty as a license to discriminate to realize that the momentum is on our side.

First, some background. As marriage for same-sex couples becomes a reality in more states, the go-to “Plan B” for opponents of LGBT equality has been to support measures that purport to protect religious liberty, but really exist to give a license to discriminate against LGBT people. In this distortion of religious liberty, a failure to provide employers and service providers with special rights to break non-discrimination laws somehow represents an attack on religious freedom.

This strategy is not new or unique to LGBT people. It is something that opponents of civil rights — for African-Americans, women, and others — have repeatedly turned to throughout history, particularly when it becomes clear they can no longer defeat, outright, the underlying civil rights gains of a particular movement. These efforts become a way to undermine and rollback gains, creating a kind of “Swiss cheese” equality. Sure the rights exist, but with a lot of holes.

Authored By Ian Thompson – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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Defenseless “Christians” and Their War Against the Gays

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

ChurchI’ve called myself an activist since coming out publicly at the University of Wyoming and joining the queer student group in the mid-nineties, and being a gay activist in a conservative, predominantly rural setting requires a fair amount of patience and tact.

I have almost 20 years of experience in politely and respectfully framing my arguments so as not to offend the “other side” of the issue. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, right? I really do try to stay calm although most LGBTQ folks can tell you that’s not always an easy task these days.

refuse-serviceFor example, in April 1999 I was a co-creator of Angel Action, the counter-protest against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Ten friends and I managed to stay calm and silent while standing mere feet away from a man I refer to as “a professional bigot.” We stood in silence, wearing our most angelic smiles while Uncle Freddie made comments like “you have the whiff of brimstone about you.” Maybe the wings made the difference?

Authored By Jim Osborn – See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

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Taking Apart the “Religious Liberty” Talking Points Behind the Right to Discriminate Bills

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

ChurchConservatives have been flailing this month to recover control of their “religious liberty” talking points after the country turned on Arizona for its “license to discriminate” bill, leading up to Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto Wednesday afternoon. Groups like the Heritage Foundation, the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, the Cato Institute, and Focus on the Family all came to SB 1062\0x2032s defense, arguing in various fashions that it would do nothing to promote discrimination against LGBT people. At the forefront of this media effort was the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which not only helped draft Arizona’s bill, but provides legal counsel to individuals who engage in such discrimination.

By doubling down in response to the backlash, these groups have sent a clear signal that the fight over “religious liberty” is far from over, even if Arizona proves to have been a turning point. Here’s a look at the rhetoric they’ve used over the past two weeks to suggest that “religious freedom” somehow requires the privilege to refuse service to the LGBT community — in particular, marrying same-sex couples — and why it doesn’t hold up.

What Is “Discrimination”?

At the core of this discussion is a fundamental disagreement about what “discrimination” is and what “discrimination” is not. It’s no secret that stories of bakers, florists, and photographers being punished for refusing service to marrying same-sex couples is what motivates these bills; proponents admit as much. But they don’t actually think of that refusal of service as discrimination.

Authored By Zack Ford – See the Full Story at Think Progress

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USA, Arizona: Governor Brewer Says She Vetoed “Right to Discriminate” Bill

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan BrewerArizona Governor Jan Brewer just held a press conference to discuss the “Right to Discriminate” bill.

Brewer says “I call them like I see them despite the boos or tears from the crowd.”

She referenced surveys and opinions that Arizona is a good state for business, and registered her disappointment that this bill was the most important thing the legislature wanted to send her.

She called the bill too broadly worded, and said no one could give her a specific example of a problem that the bill would “fix.”

She vetoed the bill a few minutes ago.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

USA, Arizona: More Companies, Politicians Oppose Right to Discriminate Bill

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan BrewerThe voices for a “no” vote on Arizona’s “Right to Discriminate” bill continue to pile up.

Here’s Newt Gingrich, via Joe.My.God:

Tonight on CNN, Newt Gingrich invited viewers to give their opinion on Arizona’s hate bill by tweeting either “sign” or “veto” using the Crossfire hashtag. After reporting that 88% of the CNN audience had tweeted “veto”, Gingrich himself did the same.

And Mitt Romney, via Towleroad.com:

Mitt Romney weighed in this afternoon on Arizona’s SB 1062, the bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. Tweeted Romney: “.@GovBrewer: veto of #SB1062 is right.”

And Fox News, via AmericaBlog:

TANTAROS: What has happened, Martha, is this has spiraled totally out of control. And so, while the First Amendment is a really strong argument, I don’t know why you would want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals.

MACCALLUM: I mean, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

TANTAROS: If you’re a business owner, I don’t know why you’d want to turn business away. And if you’re gay, let’s say, why would you want the baker of hate baking your cake anyway? Unfortunately, it has taken a really crazy turn and gotten way out of hand. And as Juan mentioned, a number of Republicans, three of them who voted to pass this said that they would change their mind.

And Delta Airlines. Towleroad.com reports:

As a global values-based company, Delta Air Lines is proud of the diversity of its customers and employees, and is deeply concerned about proposed measures in several states, including Georgia and Arizona, that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. If passed into law, these proposals would cause significant harm to many people and will result in job losses. They would also violate Delta’s core values of mutual respect and dignity shared by our 80,000 employees worldwide and the 165 million customers we serve every year. Delta strongly opposes these measures and we join the business community in urging state officials to reject these proposals.

They’re joined by a coalition of more than 80 companies who sent a letter to the governor opposing the bill.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

We too are also focused on building a vibrant business community, which is why we are so concerned. This legislation will greatly impact our ability to not only attract top talent to move to Arizona, but will also greatly inhibit our ability to recruit businesses to relocate here. We worry about our ability to succeed in competing with other markets. This legislation is frivolous, unnecessary and fiscally perilous. Arizona business owners already have the right to refuse business to anyone. There is no need for this legislation, and we believe it is attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. When the Legislature passes bills like this, it creates a reputation that Arizona is judgmental and unwelcoming. This will haunt our business community for decades to come.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Defending Freedom continues to say the bill has nothing to do with discrimination against the LGBT community.

On Top Magazine reports:

“It’s not discrimination,” Fiedorek told News Room’s Brooke Baldwin and guest legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. “There’s a big difference between taking a picture and forcing, the government forcing, someone, a citizen, to violate their sincerely-held beliefs by participating and using their creative expression to photograph a wedding. We would never ask a homosexual, we would defend a homosexual’s right not to photograph an event with the Westboro Baptist’s hateful stance. We would never want them to be involved in that.”

Can you say delusional?

And what is Governor Brewer saying now?

Joe.My.God reports:

The office of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) denied an NBC News report that she is likely to veto a controversial bill that would allow businesses to refuse services to gay and lesbian customers in an email to Business Insider Tuesday. “Governor Brewer hasn’t yet made a decision,” a Brewer spokesperson said. “The Senate transmitted its bill to our office yesterday while the Governor was in DC. When she returns, she will take the time necessary to thoroughly review and evaluate the legislation before taking action.”

So what’s it going to take to convince her?

USA, Arizona: More Pressure on Governor Brewer

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan BrewerThe pressure continues to build from both sides on the Right to Discriminate bill on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk.

Apple computer suggested there would be consequences if Arizona presses ahead with the bill.

Towleroad.com reports:

Earlier today we reported that the Arizona Chamber of Commerce was leading a call for Governor Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, the heinous bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. Companies have been signing on all day and now Apple has joined the 83 other companies calling for a veto of the bill, the Arizona Capitol Times reports:

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said the governor spoke on the phone with the company. The request comes as Apple prepares to open a new sapphire glass manufacturing plant in Mesa. The plant, which Brewer and other political leaders have touted as economic development coup for Arizona, will employ about 700 full-time employees.

Marriot is also against the bill:

“…our Arizona properties have seen a slow and steady recovery in both leisure and business stays since the end of the recession. We have serious concerns that passage of SB 1062 would undermine – or worsen counteract – that progress. This legislation has the potential to subject our state to travel boycotts by both individual leisure travelers and groups looking to hold meetings here.”

American Airlines is against it, too:

Few states suffered as greatly during the recession as Arizona. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the business and civic communities, we have been able to generate an economic comeback that is beginning to show great signs of success. There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far. Wholly apart from the stated intent of this legislation, the reality is that it has the very real potential of slowing down the momentum we have achieved by reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona and depressing the travel and tourism component of the economy if both convention traffic and individual tourists decide to go elsewhere. Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is suggesting the NFL move the Super Bowl out of Arizona if the Governor signs the bill.

Joe.My.God reports:

If they pass this law and if she signs it, it would seem to me that the NFL may be looking, or should be looking, to move the Super Bowl out of that state. Because, you know, there’s so many places around the country that are welcoming to everybody. I’ll put it this way; I want to make it clear that Delaware is a very welcoming place; Four years ago, five years ago, we actually passed a law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s puzzling to me other states would be looking at it differently.

Even some of the folks who voted for it are having second thoughts.

Joe.My.God reports:

This morning I reported that Arizona GOP state Sen. Mike Pierce has flip-flopped and is now calling for a veto of the hate bill that he voted for last week. Add two more GOP state senators to the list. Via LGBTQ Nation: Sen. Bob Worsley says he and Sens. Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent a letter to Brewer Monday asking her to strike down the legislation allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays. Worsley says he was uncomfortable when he voted for the bill. Both he and Pierce called their votes a mistake. The legislation passed last week. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is requesting a veto because of fears it will hurt tourism.

And Representative John Kavanagh, who was basically destroyed on Anderson Cooper’s show last week as he clung to his talking points, thinks Brewer will likely veto the bill.

Joe.My.God reports:

Michelangelo Signorile has tipped me that GOP Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh, who was destroyed by Anderson Cooper on Friday, has refused to appear on Signorile’s SiriusXM show today, saying that he believes the hate bill will be vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. SiriusXM producer Sean Bertollo recaps the conversation for us: I reached out to his office and spoke with Mary. She was to call me back to confirm whether or not he’d join us on the show. She called back and said to me, paraphrasing here, “Rep. Kavanagh is declining the interview.” I said, “Oh, that’s too bad, why…” She said “The bill has been vetoed.” I asked, “Ooh, the Religious Liberty bill was vetoed already?” She said, “No, but he feels as though it will be vetoed and they will have to take it up next session.” I finished, said that was too bad we couldn’t get him on the show, and then thanked her for the time.

US Senator John McCain joined the other Arizona Senator, Jeff Flake, in calling for a veto via twitter:

Joe.My.God reports:

“I hope Governor Brewer will veto #SB1062”

On the other side, the Alliance Defending Freedom defended the bill.

Joe.My.God reports:

Opponents of the proposed amendment to Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act are putting the people of Arizona in a high-risk disaster zone when it comes to their First Amendment freedoms. In America, we live by the basic principle that you don’t forfeit your religious freedom just because you step outside the four walls of your home. Congress passed the federal RFRA, the legislation after which the Arizona RFRA is modeled, for that very purpose. But the federal RFRA only applies to the federal government, and thus, a number of states, including Arizona, enacted their own versions to ensure this religious protection for their citizens.

Arizona’s RFRA, as it currently stands, does not contain the necessary specificity regarding who can use RFRA for protection if the government discriminates against them because of their religious faith. Contrary to the voices that oppose protecting religious freedom for all Arizonans, Senate Bill 1062 and House Bill 2153, which were approved last week, will not allow people to do “whatever they want” in the name of religion. The use of the amended RFRA will only come into play when the government’s law inhibits someone from freely acting in accordance with his or her faith, as has always been the case. And even then, sincerely held religious beliefs will continue to be balanced against state interests. So, Arizona will always be able to make certain things — like murder — crimes even if someone says that his religious beliefs require him to kill someone.

So that’s where they’re claiming this bill draws the line? At murder? Seriously?

And Tony Perkins basically conforms that the bill could be used for just about anything, claiming the left is trying to make it all about gay marriage.

Joe.My.God reports:

Work isn’t a ‘faith-free zone’ — but try telling that to Arizona liberals. There, the Left’s propaganda machine is in full force, cranking out one distortion after the next in what should be a non-controversial debate over religious liberty. The hysteria started late last week, when the state’s legislature gave the green light to a bill that protects business owners and other for-profit entities from being forced to provide a service that violates their beliefs. Unfortunately, the Left is looking at the bill through the skewed lens of same-sex ‘marriage,’ instead of the many ways it could be applied to shield Americans of all faiths from religious censorship or coercion. They claim the measure would be used to deny homosexuals service of any kind — which is a selective reading meant to scare people into opposing a reasonable bill. But real equality — the kind the Left insists it wants — demands that everyone, not just a vocal few, have the ability to live and work according to their conscience. If you’re against the Arizona bill, then you’re really against First Amendment rights. Arizonans will find out in the next day or two which side Governor Jan Brewer (R) is on. The state’s leader has until Friday to decide if Arizona will push back on the oppression of religious liberty — or join it.

When in fact, what we’ve been saying is that it’s not about gay marriage – it’s i fact much broader than that, and there lies the real danger.

Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper took down another anti gay Arizona representative, who claimed that there is no discrimination in Arizona.

Towleroad.com reports:

On AC360 tonight, Anderson Cooper confronted Arizona State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Al Melvin about SB 1062, the bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. Constitutional law professor Kenji Yoshino joined the debate and spent the segment rebutting Melvin’s arguments. Melvin either didn’t appear to know or didn’t want to admit that his state can already fire someone for being gay because sexual orientation is not included in the state’s anti-discrimination statutes. Melvin also coiuldn’t give an incredulous Anderson Cooper a single instance in which someone has been discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.

Go, Anderson, go!

Governor Brewer is still holding her cards close to the vest.

Towleroad.com reports:

Dana Bash interviewed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in Washington DC today about what she planned to do with SB 1062, the bill awaiting herat home that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs.

Said Brewer: “I’m going to go home, and when I receive the bill, I’m going to read it and I’m going to be briefed on it. We have been following it. And I will make my decision in the near future.” Bash also brought up the fact that nearly 100 businesses were now publicly urging her to veto but would not show her hand:

“I have a history of deliberating and having an open dialogue on bills that are controversial, to listen to both sides of those issues, and I welcome the input, and information that they can provide to me. And certainly I am pro-business, and that is what’s turning our economy around, so I appreciate their input, as I appreciate the other side.”

Again, the question. Will she or won’t she?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

USA, Arizona: Will She or Won’t She?

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan BrewerArizona Governor Jan Brewer has the reputation of the entire state of Arizona in her hands. Will she or won’t she sign the Right to Discriminate bill?

Gay Star News reports:

‘You know, the bill is in transmittal and I don’t have to make a decision until next Friday so I’ve got plenty of time,’ Jan Brewer said, on 22 February, as reported by ABC News…. Brewer, also a Republican, told reporters she needed to study the bill first. ‘I need to explore it,’ she said.

More and more public figures are lining up against the bill. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D) draws a parallel to the whites-only laws in the South.

Joe.My.God reports:

Discrimination by private businesses led to some of the most noteworthy moments of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was targeted at the Montgomery Bus Lines, sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to move to the back of the bus. Civil rights activists who claimed white-only lunch counters as their own were subject to arrest, beatings and worse. I have spent a great deal of time in Mexico working to undo damage done by SB 1070 to our state’s ability to benefit from trade with one of the world’s emerging economies. I remember the fallout from Arizona’s long delay in passing a Martin Luther King Holiday. SB 1062 and HB 2153 are not only offensive, but if signed into law, will cause our state and our region significant economic harm. I ask our governor in the strongest possible terms to veto this legislation, and I urge Tucsonans to contact her with that request as well.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) also spoke out.

On Top Magazine reports:

“It would put a national and international spotlight on Arizona in a way that’s uphelpful to our economy,” Stanton told gay glossy The Advocate. “It’s the wrong direction to go. The city I lead is a very open city, and we love our diversity,” Stanton said of Phoenix, which has an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Even some in the GOP are questioning the bill. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (R), also a gubernatorial candidate, things SB 1062 is bigotry, pure and simple.

Joe.My.God reports:

“As a Christian conservative, I am very troubled that religious rights are being trampled as part of the current debate on changes in our society. But I am also a member of a church that has experienced severe persecution because of its beliefs. I firmly believe that discrimination or bigotry in any form is unacceptable. I am concerned that SB1062 carries real potential for unintended legal consequences that could negatively impact our most basic rights, including the freedom of religion. This bill could have a detrimental impact on Arizona’s business environment at a time when our economy is still fragile. Our state must keep focused on creating jobs and building a strong future for our children.”

Even one GOP Senator, state Sen. Steve Pierce, who voted for the bill is now backtracking.

Joe.My.God reports:

“I don’t like the negative picture of Arizona, and I’m on board asking the governor to veto the bill. To say (the bill is) anti-gay is following the feeding frenzy. I have friends that are gay and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt them. This is blown way out of proportion and it’s too bad.”

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce also opposes the bill.

Joe.My.God reports:

The Chamber tweeted: “We join with @phxchamber Greater Phx Leadership and S. Ariz. leadership in requesting veto of SB1062. Official statement tomorrow.”

Star Trek actor (and openly gay) George Takei released his own statement on the bill.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

“The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear. So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.”

And gay actor Harvey Fierstein chimes in.

Queerty reports:

“Sometimes I am left dumbfounded by the stupidity of politicians and their citizens. One would have thought that Arizona learned its lesson years ago when they passed horrific laws discriminating against their Hispanic community. They lost tourism, and population and the respect of the nation… Well, they are at it again with what they are calling a “Religious Freedom” law that is actually a law that would make discriminating against the gay community lawful. A policeman could say that his religion bans contact with homosexuals and just leave a victim to die. Doctors could refuse service to the LGBT community. A bus driver could throw you off the bus because his bible doesn’t accept homosexuality…It’s the MOST ABSURD AND HATEFUL LAW that anyone has crafted since… I don’t know… maybe the DOM laws? I hope their Governor turns her back on this hatred. If not… oh, my children, if not… We are going to have a lot of fun suing them down to bankruptcy!!!! I’m already looking up flights.”

The bill should hit Brewer’s desk today.

Edge Boston reports:

The Arizona Senate is expected to send a bill allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays to Gov. Jan Brewer as early as Monday. That action will start a five-day clock for the Republican governor to act on a proposed law she herself calls controversial.

And former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd puts his money on Brewer vetoing the bill.

Towleroad.com reports:

“I think, in the end, Gov. Brewer is probably going to veto this because it seems like an easy veto for her to do because of everything that’s going in the business economy there. This is one of those problems when people use religion as a way to sort of enforce discriminatory practices. People used religion back in the 1860s when they defended slavery. They used religion to defend slavery. We’ve used religion to go to war. People have criticized Islam because they use religion to fight people and kill people. This is the problem with that. In the end I think she vetoes it because there’s no way this can survive.”

So will she or won’t she?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

USA: Who Is Pushing These “Right to Discriminate” Bills?

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

ChurchThese “right to discriminate” bills, which would let just about anyone discriminate against just about anyone because God, have been popping up all across the country, but is there someone co-ordinating all this behind the scenes?

Becca Morn at America Blog may have the answer:

As reported by Al Jazeera America: Cornerstone in Idaho, the Kansas Family Policy Council, and the Center for Arizona Policy, which supports the bill there, are all part of a network of 38 state “family policy councils” pressing for these laws under the umbrella of Citizen Link, the advocacy arm of the conservative Christian powerhouse Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is James Dobson’s hate-mill, by the way, now headed by Jim Daly. Another backer is the American Religious Freedom Program, headed by Brian Walsh — who disingenuously claims these efforts are nothing more than trying to ensure that priests and florists don’t have to participate in Big Gay Weddings. And the ARFP sounds familiar, that’s because it’s part of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think-tank and lobbying organization run by Ed Whelan, former Reagan official in the DoJ and also former clerk for Justice Scalia.

The fact that it’s legal to discriminate against LGBTs in many states is nothing new. Twenty-nine states already have some form of ‘religious exemption’. But now this AFRP group has drafted its wide-reaching bill, and according to reports in the Wichita Eagle, has been shopping it around to state legislatures around the country. Brian Walsh, executive director of the ARFP, which supports religious freedom measures, acknowledges that his group consulted with the legislators on the bill, but he says that lots of other groups did as well: “We gave them suggestions and they took some of them.” Walsh says that ARFP was contacted by legislators who wrote the Tennessee bill and that the group frequently talked to legislators in South Dakota about “religious freedom” but not the state’s specific bill. Julie Lynde, executive director of Cornerstone Family Council in Idaho, one of many state groups that are part of Citizen Link, a branch of Focus on the Family, told Al Jazeera America, “We’ve been involved in working on the language” of the Idaho bill. Another member of Citizen Link, the Arizona Policy Center, has been active in supporting the Arizona bill.

And why are these proposed laws written so broadly? Becca thinks that’s the point:

In my opinion, Whelan’s organization didn’t write a sloppy bill to shop around. I believe the bill does exactly what it means to do, which is something the far-right conservatives have been itching to do ever since the first sweeping civil rights bills were passed in the 1960s: Repeal them. Not just some, and not just to enable anti-gay and anti-trans discrimination, but all of the equal rights laws. Using ‘religious freedom’ as the cudgel to roll back women’s reproductive freedoms is just another prong of the attack.

It’s a great article, going into detail on all these laws, including some I was unaware of. Read the whole thing to get a better idea of what’s lurking below the surface of all these “right to discriminate” bills.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Arizona: Governor Brewer Waffles on “Right to Discriminate” Bill

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Right to Discriminate - Rocco's PizzeriaWill she sign it, or won’t she? Governor Jan Brewer is sending mixed signals about the fate of the “right to discriminate” bill passed by the AZ legislature this last week.

CNN reports:

The bill, which the state House of Representatives passed by a 33-27 vote Thursday, now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and onetime small business owner who vetoed similar legislation last year but has expressed the right of business owners to deny service. “I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with,” Brewer told CNN in Washington on Friday. “But I don’t know that it needs to be statutory. In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested. That’s America. That’s freedom.”

So it’s official – the “freedom” the GOP is always talking about is the freedom to discriminate.

Governor Brewer also tweeted that she would make a decision by next Friday:

“I will make my decision by next Friday… But it’s very controversial, so I’ve got to get my hands around it.”

Which may be problematic, because the bill automatically becomes law if she does nothing by either Tuesday or Thursday (5 days or 5 business days).

Mayors of two central Arizona cities are ruing Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

Joe.My.God reports:

The Democratic mayors of Phoenix and Tempe took to Twitter to denounce Arizona’s anti-gay bill and demand that it be vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. Notably quiet is the GOP mayor of Mesa, Scott Smith, who is running for governor. Also silent so far is Jay Tibshraeny, the GOP mayor of Chandler, Arizona’s fourth-largest city. (But he DID just tweet about the Ostrich Festival. Priorities!) Scottsdale GOP mayor Jim Lane, who opposed his city’s successful LGBT rights ordinance in 2007, has also not yet uttered a word. Ditto for the GOP mayor of Gilbert, John Lewis. The Democratic mayor of Tucson, Jonathan Rothschild, rarely uses Twitter and has not yet responded to the press, but he is an ardent supporter of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, (D) Phoenix, says the bill sends a very bad message about the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Campbell, the Democratic minority leader, said during Thursday’s debate that gays and lesbians across the country would get the message that they’re not welcome in Arizona. “We’re telling them, ‘We don’t like you. We don’t want you here. We’re not going to protect you,” he said.

It’s already hard to go back to my home state to visit my family – my husband, Mark, is hispanic. And now this?

Meanwhile, Joe.My.God points out that many of the national LGBT groups seem to be silent on the Arizona bill:

Unless I’ve missed something, there has not been one response from any of these organizations in the 24 hours since the Arizona legislature voted to legalize anti-gay discrimination. I’ve gotten zero outraged press releases and there’s basically nothing about Arizona on the websites of the Human Rights Campaign, AFER, Lambda Legal, NCLR, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Freedom To Marry, or GLAAD. Yesterday HRC did tweet out a link to five-sentence blog post and the Task Force today retweeted somebody else’s message to contact Gov. Jan Brewer. But that’s it, as far I can I tell.

And right on schedule, here’s something from HRC.

SDGLN reports:

Following the Senate passage of Arizona’s so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin called on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill. “This bill is bad for business, bad for the LGBT community and bad for all Arizonans. Governor Brewer, who herself described it as very controversial, must veto it and send a strong message that legally sanctioned discrimination has no place in Arizona,” Griffin said. “Religious groups have a long established first amendment ability to operate according to their own beliefs. However, when individuals or businesses go out into the commercial market, they must abide by legal non-discrimination provisions,” he said.

Hundreds rallied at the Capitol to urge Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Hundreds of people have gathered at the Arizona Capitol to demand that Gov. Jan Brewer veto legislation that would allow business owners to refuse to serve gays by citing their religious beliefs. Friday afternoon’s protests come a day after the House passed a bill pushed by conservative Republicans that adds protections from discrimination lawsuits to individuals and businesses. The Senate passed the same bill on Wednesday. Gov. Jan Brewer must sign or veto Senate Bill 1062 by the end of next week.

On the other side, predictably, NOM is urging Governor Brewer to sign the bill:

Both the Arizona Senate and House have approved a bill that would prevent business owners from being targeted in lawsuits for declining to participate in same-sex wedding celebrations on the grounds of religious objections. With the spate of lawsuits we’ve seen around the country brought against business owners who have declined service for same-sex ‘marriage’ celebrations, we know how critical legislation of this nature is to protect the First Amendment rights of people of faith. The Arizona legislature should be commended for passing this crucial bill, and now we must ask Governor Brewer to sign it immediately into law!

The local Center for Arizona Policy, an anti gay group that co-authored the bill, is also pushing for her signature.

Joe.My.God reports:

Even before the last vote was cast in the House, opponents of SB 1062 started a mass calling and email campaign into Governor Brewer’s office to try to pressure her into vetoing this important bill. It is critical that the Governor hears from YOU that no one should be forced to violate their religious beliefs merely because they go to work or start a business!

Our favorite story of the day? This one, from Tucson, about a pizzeria owner exercising his own right to discriminate.

Joe.My.God reports:

Posted to the Facebook page of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson. The restaurant has also posted this: “As a longtime employer and feeder of the gay community, Rocco’s reserves the right to eject any State Senators we see fit to kick out. That is all.” The photo has been shared over 2000 times and many commenters are vowing to patronize Rocco’s.

This guy has the right idea. I’ve already asked all my Tucson relatives to go and grab a slice of Rocco’s pizza.

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The Death-Throes Of The Anti-Gay Movement

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Gay WeddingI know the danger to gay people remains great, and I don’t want to minimize the impact of living in a state where businesses of all kinds are empowered by law to put “No Gays Allowed” or “No Gays Served” in their best practices. But in America in the 21st Century, the movement that seeks to legislate outright discrimination against a tiny minority is doomed to bitter failure. It’s doomed because the principle of non-discrimination is now endemic in American culture – and among the younger generation the first article of their civil religion. Such a principle became embedded in the national identity in the Civil Rights era, where the evil of Jim Crow laws was exposed with fatal finality.

Now, the Christianist right is putting its full weight behind legal discrimination against any groups or individuals who might offend someone’s sincerely held religious conscience. Arizona’s Senate just passed a new bill expanding the concept of religious freedom from being the province of “religious assemblies and institutions” to a much broader category that includes “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.” So rights once accorded to purely religious institutions are now for anyone – any business, any teacher, any pharmacist, any florist, any hotel-owner and on and on.

I’ve had my say on this, but it’s worth reiterating that this bill has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. It is, rather, is an attack on Christian principles and a betrayal of the Gospels.

Authored By Andrew Sullivan – See the Full Story at The Dish

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