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Ariz. governor asked to veto bill allowing religious discrimination against gays

Friday, February 21, 2014
APGov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.)

AP
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.)

PHOENIX — Four years after igniting a national uproar over immigration, the Arizona Legislature has jumped into the battle over gay rights with a piece of legislation that had opponents on Friday predicting business boycotts against the state.

The legislation (SB 1062) allows business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays, and all eyes are on Republican Gov. Jan Brewer as she decides whether to sign the bill. A decision is likely next week.

The conservative governor is already feeling pressure from the business community to veto the bill passed late Thursday. A prominent Phoenix group believes it would be another black eye for the state that saw a national backlash over its 2010 immigration crackdown law, SB 1070. Opponents also pointed out that the legislation would serve as a major distraction as Arizona prepares to host the Super Bowl next year.

But Brewer also will be heavily pressured to sign the bill by social conservatives who backed it as a religious-rights bill.

Brewer, who is deeply religious but also pro-business, is caught somewhere in the middle. She hasn’t taken a public position on this bill.

Social conservatives and libertarian-minded members of the GOP believe the legislation protects the First Amendment rights of business owners who are expressing their religious beliefs.

The new legislation was passed over the shrill objections of Democrats who said it was clearly designed to allow discrimination against gays. All but three Republicans in the Legislature voted in favor of the bill.

Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome urged the governor to veto the bill and said four companies have already put their plans to open facilities in Arizona on hold until they see if the bill becomes law. The impact could mean the potential loss of “thousands of jobs,” Broome said.

In terms of wooing businesses, Broome said the bill is far more damaging than SB1070 was.

“This is coming out of left field … from a bunch of demagogues who don’t care about Arizona’s future,” Broome said. “I think the political consequences are gonna be greater than people might think.”

Republicans defended the proposal during two days of debate in the House and Senate, saying the bill is only a “modest update” of the state’s existing religious freedom law, which mirrors existing federal legislation. They frequently cited the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple and said Arizona needs a law to protect people in the state from heavy-handed actions by courts.

“The world’s on its ear,” said Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, who supported the bill. “It’s alien to me that a business owner can’t reflect his faith in his business.”

The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or an individual claiming discrimination. It also allows the business or person to seek an injunction once they show their actions are based on a sincere religious belief and the claim places a burden on the exercise of their religion.

The ultimate fate of the bill will be clear sometime next week. Brewer will have five days after her office receives the bill to act, and it likely won’t reach her desk until Monday.

She did veto similar legislation last year, but that came during a bill-signing moratorium she put in place while she battled to get recalcitrant conservatives in the Legislature to pass a Medicaid expansion. Still, the veto might be a hint that she won’t go along again. And she’s knocked down other controversial bills, including a 2011 bill that would have required President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names could appear on the state’s ballot.

Rep. Demion Clinco, a Tucson Democrat who is openly gay, called the bill “toxic” and said it will validate attacks on gays and lesbians.

“It actually creates some sort of credibility to be able to tell someone ‘I’m sorry, I can’t serve you in my restaurant or my place of business or provide you services because you’re different or because of your sexuality,’” Clinco said.

Josh Kredit, an attorney for the Center of Arizona Policy which helped draft the legislation, said it wouldn’t add any new substantive legal rights for business owners.

“We are clarifying the protection we thought existed. We’re not saying you have carte blanche to do whatever you want,” Kredit said.

Religious groups were split. Kredit’s group is evangelical Christian, and the Arizona Catholic Conference backs the bill. The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona opposes it.

After hearing that the legislation was approved, Rocco DiGrazia, owner of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson, put up a sign on a window Thursday night that reads “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators.”

DiGrazia calls the bill’s approval “appalling.”

DiGrazia, who grew up Catholic but doesn’t follow any religion now, said he cares more about dishing out pizza to customers — gay or straight. He isn’t sure if he’ll follow what’s on his sign.

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72 more reader comments:

  1. will she? or will she continue her crazy bitch ways?

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:11pm
  2. Regardless, it's going to be "interesting" (for lack of a better word) to hear her rationale behind signing it. Circular justification, has NOTHING on these people

    Replied on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:13pm
  3. Please Veto this bill Jan! Don’t let Marsha Marsha Marsha get her way.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:12pm
  4. That crazy bitch will sign it!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:13pm
  5. Don’t hold your breath.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:14pm
  6. Fuck you

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:14pm
  7. The world’s on its ear,” said Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, who supported the bill. “It’s alien to me that a business owner can’t reflect his faith in his business.”…is it so alien, if that religious belief is directly illegal? ie. discrimination? I guess this goes with the territory of being protected by religion if you are a pedophile priest etc.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:16pm
  8. It's illegal, unconstitutional. If a religion allowed slavery or the mutilation of young girls and boys for religious purposes, it's just as illegal.

    Replied on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:56pm
  9. At least, it should be, and I can't fathom why it's not recognized as such.

    Replied on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:06am
  10. indeed ,,,vote them out..

    Replied on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:03am
  11. I’m gay and I hope she does sign it. It will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This will ruin her political career indefinitely.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:17pm
  12. How many people will have to suffer in the mean time though?? That would be pyrrhic by any definition!

    Replied on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:03am
  13. Flood her office w phone calls, visits and e-mails…. Do NOT be silent over this

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:19pm
  14. Well I wanted to move to Az. ……now not so much

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:19pm
  15. I don’t understand. Brewer is a WOMAN!!!! According to their religious belief she should be in her house raising children,cooking,cleaning and obeying a abusive husband. god all mighty how a woman dare to speak in public instead of keeping silence in her husband’s shadow?.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:21pm
  16. Bree you’d think so but it won’t. Az sucks a bag of dicks that way.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:21pm
  17. Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:21pm
  18. All this law will do is force the judicial branch to declare sexual orientation to be a protected class. In one fell swoop all of the discrimination will become illegal.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:21pm
  19. Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:22pm
  20. what would happen if a religious couple wanted to stay at a B&B run by an atheist, and the atheist refused them?! the religious couple would be suing EVERYONE!! cos to them, their religion is number 1 and trumps everything else, even if it’s illegal… religions should be made illegal, they start all the hate in the first place, and if you look into it, have caused the last few wars… #banreligion

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:23pm
  21. I’m still lost on how you know someone in your store is gay. Do you have a lie detector at the door?

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:25pm
  22. This isn’t religious freedom, it is discrimination using that as a mask. You are allowed to be religious and be proud if it AS LONG as it doesn’t impede on the rights of others.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:25pm
  23. If She Is Any Bit Human She Will Veto This Stupid Bill

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:26pm
  24. Please go to Gov Jan Brewer’s website and tell her how you feel about this. I just did!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:26pm
  25. This woman needs to die already, get a freaking aneurism or something, just die you old piece of human waste.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:26pm
  26. They will loose business tourism and much more

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:29pm
  27. Steven Isherwood link her website please.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:31pm
  28. If she is a smart Republican she will veto this bill. If not, it is going to hurt the already damaged Republicans and it will hurt the state of Arizona when discriminatory businesses shut down and other businesses don’t want to move there.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:33pm
  29. What a stupid ass!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:33pm
  30. Fuck this shit, Christians can go f-themselves, tired of this crap

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:34pm
  31. Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:34pm
  32. This is a no brainer!!!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:39pm
  33. I hope to has the courage to do the right thing by Veto the bill.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:41pm
  34. She is just disgusting. F*ck you AZ and Jan Brewer too!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:44pm
  35. Sign it, Jan! It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good shit-storm.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:49pm
  36. She needs to!

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:52pm
  37. Arizona TEA had better put some phone calls to the governor, because their business will suffer, regardless of the connection.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:54pm
  38. If Governor Jan Brewer signs this #ChristoNazi human rights violation she will probe to everyone that she agrees with Hitler.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:54pm
  39. She’s such a hag.

    Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:58pm
  40. Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:01am
  41. I’m am a Christian. However, the Jesus I love is shaking his head at this shameful representation of “Christianity”

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:02am
  42. She is certifiably demented…

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:04am
  43. It is quite easy to call her office and leave a voice message asking her to veto this bill! Here is the number: 1-800-253-0883

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:06am
  44. Welcome to The Great Hate of Arizona!

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:13am
  45. Another Hiltler Nazi bitch and her foul law dehumanizes gays evil must be confronted with large protest.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:16am
  46. There goes all my plans to visit AZ

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:19am
  47. If she doesn’t veto she will look like an idiot

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:24am
  48. If she doesn’t veto it, there are going to be some wild-ass repercussions! They will be SO SORRY.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:27am
  49. How about some Christian common sense. I think this makes a lot of sense!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/skye-jethani/an-evangelical-case-for-g_b_4476307.html

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:28am
  50. The conservative GOP is a bunch of self righteous bigots who are taking up valuable space in our government. They need to be removed. They really don’t think about things before going through with them. The fact that they say the bill protects businesses from being sued (like the one in NM for refusing the lesbian couple). You wouldn’t need protection from being sued if you didn’t discriminate, period. Tired of these idiots using religion to discriminate. That isn’t religion!

    Acts 10:34

    So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,

    Mark 12:31
    ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” I guess they don’t read these books in the bible.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:34am
  51. Gov. It is time for you to stand up and veto a bill that allows for so vcalled religions to discriminate against a segment of our population. It is wrong in every sense of the word. Hate is not to be legislated.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:36am
  52. Something tells me she will veto it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing wasn’t staged.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:36am
  53. Christopher McBride I’m a bisexual Christian and a very active member of the community. I’ve seen so many responses like yours and I’m saddened by them. I hate these laws. I hate how people are using God as an excuse to be hateful and ignorant; but I don’t believe that and it sucks that I get clumped in with that.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:41am
  54. LET’S, SEE…. IF, THE BITCH, CAN MAKE, THE RIGHT DECISION!!?
    (p.s. I don’t, have a lot; of faith, that she will!!)

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:47am
  55. it might be best if this just goes to the courts where these laws can be quashed once and for all.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:53am
  56. Idea: move to AZ open up a resteraunt then refuse to service to Christians. see how they like it

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 12:55am
  57. Just cancelled a vacation there in April Fuck AZ!

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:00am
  58. yes indeed…

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:02am
  59. Unconstitutional. Take it to the next level. I smell a supreme court case fairly soon. Bigots.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:03am
  60. Religion is the biggest crock of shit known to man. More of mankind have died in the name of god than all wars put together. Keep believing in the invisible beings in the sky that whispers things to you in visions and dreams. Or believe in a god that will send you to hell, to burn torment and destroy your soul for the rest of eternity. “But he loves you”

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:34am
  61. Don’t know if anybody has suggested this yet but since Gov Brewer isn’t going to make a decision on SB1062 till nxt friday it would be useful to email or contact corporate offices of businesses we deal with ex: grocery store, dept store, restaurant, etc. Also companies like Apple and Amazon and let them know how this law will effect their GLBT employees living here. Ask them to contact the Gov. Let them know that if this bill becomes law that their employees will have the right to discriminate based on the employees religious beliefs and with social media the incident would be public knowledge quickly. The gay community alone may not have much of an effect on their bottom line but let them know we have straight friends and family that support us. If big money companies talk to the Gov it will also carry weight in her decision. Just an idea to get the word out

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:40am
  62. This woman will sign ths bill into law. It is the will of the Toilet Paper group…total destruction of America…at any cost. Regardless of how you feel, we, the LGBT, must take a stand nationally. We need to stop being doorstops and take this to a level America has never seen!! We have to end this our way!!! We have power, implied and real. The right wing is afraid of us..time to show them what we have and what we can do. We have money and capable of using it. We have people who are on our side. Time to use them!!! We have to show the religious right at their roots what we can do….

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:26am
  63. I just moved here. Guess I’m moving again.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:35am
  64. As an arizona voter…I am asking that she veto this and behave as an enlightened Gov. who care how our state is viewed and to stand up for all people, not just bigot republicans of this state.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:48am
  65. She is a BiTCH and a HATER

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:48am
  66. BOO

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:58am
  67. Arizona will soon see business fall off the cliff and move out of state if Brewer signs this law! Bye, bye conventions, tourists, Super Bowl et al..

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 3:08am
  68. Brewer needs to shut down this discriminatory bill and stand up strongly for the constitutional rights and liberties of all Arizonians! Must not let these radical “religious” groups determine freedom!

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 3:11am
  69. Shes a republican…. sadly she will sign it :/

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 3:28am
  70. Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 3:28am
  71. 1,000 + jobs already lost because the company didn’t want the controversy of a hate state. And that’s before the bill may may not be signed. Progressive companies will not want to be anywhere near this hatred & bigotry. This dimwhit governor has caused enough financial problems for millions in Arizona, vote her bigot butt out.

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 3:45am
  72. Well they can all lick my pussy…. Homophobic bitches

    Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 4:00am