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Opposition to Arizona’s Right-To-Discriminate Bill Grows

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2014

Arizona’s License-To-Discriminate law is still on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk awaiting her decision. The expansive SB 1062, which would allow virtually anyone to discriminate against anyone else — and more — on the basis of religious belief, would effectively bring anarchy to the state of Arizona and its employers with non-hostile workplace policies. Which is why local Arizona business groups are lining up to urge Brewer to veto the bill:

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Arizona Technology Council are joining gay rights groups in opposition to Senate Bill 1062. Part of their worries are the measure will repeat the bad publicity and negative impact on tourism and business investment seen after Gov. Jan Brewer signed the SB 1070 immigration bill four years ago.

“This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl, and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts,” said GPEC chairman James Lundy and CEO Barry Broome in a letter to Brewer today. They also said four companies looking to bring jobs to Arizona might reverse course if Brewer signs the measure, which passed the Legislature this week. They did not identify the companies.

Businesses are looking to avoid repeating the SB 1070 debacle four years ago when Arizona lost millions of dollars in businesses and tax revenue due to the fallout. Other business groups opposing SB 1062 this time include the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the outhern Arizona Leadership Council, and Visit Tucson, the city’s tourism board.

Individual businesses have also lined up to oppose the bill, including Apple, which is set to open a new sapphire glass plant in Mesa with 700 full-time jobs. Other Arizona employers opposing SB 1062 include PetSmart, Intel, Dignity Health, American Express, Mariott, American Airlines (which recently merged with Tempe-based USAirways) and Delta Airlines.

Local politicians are voicing their opposition. Tucson’s Mayor Jonathan Rothschild opposes the bill, as does Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard from Glendale Mayor Elaine Scott. That city risks losing the 2015 Super Bowl if SB 1062 makes it into law:

The NFL said it was monitoring the progress of the bill, the Cardinals said they are concerned about the negative image the bill could bring the state, and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee said it flatly opposes the legislation.

…n 1993, Arizona was in line to host the Super Bowl in Tempe, but Arizona voters in November 1992 voted against a referendum recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday, prompting the NFL to give the Super Bowl to Pasadena, CA.

Even Fox News, which has spent several months drumming up support for bills like Arizona’s SB 1062, has done an about face and now compares the bill to Jim Crow laws. Which has got to be very disorienting to Arizona politicians living in the Fox News bubble.  But at least it’s having its effect. Three Republican State Senators who had supported SB 1062 before they opposed it, are now urging Brewer to veto the bill.

Sens. Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs, and Steve Pierce delivered a letter to Brewer on Monday, saying, “While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”

The senators asked Brewer to veto the bill.

“We must send a clear message that Arizona is a state that values religious tolerance and protects and values each individual’s ability to follow the dictates of their own conscience,” they wrote.

Now they come to their senses. If they had voted against the bill in the first place, it would have failed in the Senate 14-16. Instead, it passed in a 17-13 vote.

Arizona’s two Republican U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake also urge Brewer to veto SB 1062.

As for SB 1052 supporters, the include the bill’s primary cheerleader, the Center for Arizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod. CAP, by the way, is an official state policy council of Focus On the Family. And there’s this guy, State Sen. Al Melvin (R-SaddleBrooke/Tucson):

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Which more or less means that any halfway sane governor would veto this bill before it even had a chance to settle on her desk. But since Brewer has until Friday to make up her mind, the rest of the country gets to see what we Zonies have to put up with every day.

Comments

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jpeckjr
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Another business point against it:

For employers with nondiscrimination policies, this bill is unwarranted interference in their business practices. It creates the possibility that an employee can violate company policy then use this law as a defense against disciplinary action or termination.

Republicans are always talking about getting the govt off the backs of business — this law interferes with businesses being able to conduct their customer service and personnel policies as they see fit by giving individual employees permission to override employer policy based on personal beliefs.

jpeckjr
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

I also have to ask: what problem in Arizona is this law meant to address, solve, or prevent? Sexual orientation is not a protected class in Arizona or federal law. It is not illegal in AZ to discriminate against LGB persons.

The supporters of the bill like to cite the three cases of small businesses who refused to sell goods and services to same-sex couples, cases in WA, CO, and NM. All those states include sexual orientation as a protected class. AZ does not. These couples, had they been in AZ, would have had no legal protection and, thus, there would have been no grounds for a lawsuit, as no law had been broken.

Most of the states where these laws are being promoted or considered, with Maine the exception, do not include sexual orientation as a protected class, nor do they have marriage equality.

What problem are these laws meant to address, solve or prevent?

Their SOLE purpose is to codify animus against homosexual persons.

Ben in Oakland
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

“Sens. Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs, and Steve Pierce delivered a letter to Brewer on Monday, saying, “While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”

Are they really saying this? Mis characterized? Discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours or mine, is prohibited at EVERY level of government in our country. This isn’t s mis characterization, it is precisely the situation.

I am torn on this. On the one hand, this bill is the worst of the excesses of the religious right. On the other hand, if brewer doesn’t veto it, it should of course go down quickly in the courts and cause a great deal of damage to Arizona in the process! serving as a warning to those states considering the same kind of trash? but more importantly, it might motivate Arizonans to dump their troglodyte legislature.

jpeckjr
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

On my second message, as Anderson so skillfully pointed out.

“Sir,” said Sen. Melvin, “I have been given my two speaking points, so please don’t distract me by asking me to think for myself. Or even keep up with your questions and points.”

Timothy Kincaid
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

I don’t think that Worsley, Driggs, and Pierce went into the vote thinking “let’s stick it to the gays”. (Though I’m sure some legislators did)

So I’m willing to accept that while the bill has been accurately portrayed, there may be a misconception as to the intent of some of the legislators.

In other words, perhaps they are not bigoted but simply went into the vote being careless, craven, and not very bright.

But I suppose it’s a good thing that they are now sufficiently careful and savvy to see that this is a huge mistake and try to reverse it.

Timothy Kincaid
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

And, for what little it’s worth, even Mitt Romney is calling for a veto.

Sandhorse
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Ben,

Mine was the same reaction. Until I realized that this is yet another example of riding the political fence. “We voting for something good but the baddies are making it look bad so we want you to undo this not because it is bad but because it’s making us look bad.”

Spare me…

And this fence riding is only necessary because, contrary to what I believe the founders intended, politics have become some people’s soul livelihood. And why shouldn’t it; with present and residual benefits the rest of the US citizenry will never see.

Thus you have Senators and Reps impotent with concern about that the decisions they make today and how they will affect their next re-election prospects. Every day and every bill is practically an election campaign in itself. It’s all become a colossal joke, IMHO.

But I digress.

Ben in Oakland
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Your first paragraph states the dilemma with great articulation.

Sandhorse
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Timothy,

I would say it’s still a C.Y.A. maneuver. ‘Misunderstood’ and ‘misrepresent’ are two different words.

Regardless of their intentions, they’re still blaming the bills ‘opponents’, not the bill itself.

So they either read the bill, disregarded its implications and voted affirmatively, or they did read it and are now just playing the blame game.

Either scenario is nefarious.

Timothy Kincaid
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

sandhorse,

yes, the choices appear to be that they were either
a) intentionally seeking to disadvantage one segment of the population, or
b) craven politician too cowardly to admit that their vote was inherently wrong

neither are good choices

Jonathan Oz
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Governor Brewer’s just trying to extend her 15 minutes of national fame, by not vetoing it days ago. She’s an attention-whore, pure and simple who has no regard for bigger truths, facts or even common decency. The people of Arizona should bow their heads in shame at this crass grand standing, and toss these clowns out on their ears.

Matt
February 26th, 2014 | LINK

Gov. Brewer did indeed veto the bill. Now on to Missouri for the next battle against Jim Crow.

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