John M. Becker

Pressure Mounts on Brewer to Veto Arizona Hate Bill

Filed By John M. Becker | February 24, 2014 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-discrimination law, Arizona, corporate equality, Jan Brewer, religious exemption, religious privilege, Republican Party, special rights

jan-brewer-2.jpgLocal, state, and national lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would legalize religion-based anti-LGBT discrimination in the state. Among those urging a veto are three Republican state senators who voted for the bill.

The AP reports:

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.

When asked about his change of course, Pierce said, "I screwed up. I'm trying to make it right." Ironically, the bill passed the Arizona Senate on a 17-13 vote, meaning if all three of these senators had voted against it in the first place, the measure wouldn't have passed.

Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh, a proponent of the bill who falsely claimed during a floor debate last week that "people are using the cloak of discrimination to persecute religious people," cancelled an interview with LGBT activist and SiriusXM radio show host Michelangelo Signorile today. His spokesperson said Kavanagh pulled out because he believes Brewer will deep-six the bill.

Both of Arizona's U.S. Senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, also are urging a veto. Details, after the jump.

McCain weighed in on the controversy on Saturday morning, tweeting:

Flake followed suit that evening with an almost identical tweet:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the sole openly bi member of Congress, replied to Flake via Twitter, "I agree." Three of her Democratic colleagues in the Arizona delegation, Reps. Raúl Grijalva; Ann Kirkpatrick; and Ron Barber; have all spoken out against the hate-protection bill as well.

The editorial board of the Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper, urged Brewer to put the brakes on the bill, writing:

Gov. Jan Brewer's pen is a powerful economic-development tool.

She should use it to veto legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.

Doing so would further what Brewer calls "ongoing work to make Arizona the best state in the country for high-tech companies to do business."...

This bill is a do-it-yourself black eye that would tag Arizona as a champion of anachronistic views of sexual orientation.

That's not just the wrong side of history; it's the dumb side of economic development.

We urge the governor to veto this bill as part of her continuing message that Arizona is open for business.

The "anti-LGBT discrimination is bad for business" theme is being echoed by business groups like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who sent a letter to Brewer urging a veto, as well as the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Technology Council, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Phoenix Leadership.

squash-the-competition.jpgA group of 83 companies, including hotel, tourism, and technology corporations, sent Brewer a letter as well. Among the signers was telecommunications giant AT&T. Other mega-corporations weighing in on the side of fairness include Apple, Marriott, and American Airlines.

Some political and business leaders are worried that the bill may even jeopardize the 2015 Super Bowl, which is currently scheduled to be held in the state. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee condemned SB 1062 in a statement today:

We share the NFL's core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL's values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.

And Kristin Jarnagin, vice president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, told the Arizona Daily Star that the economic backlash against the state has already begun in the form of cancelled trips:

"We have already lost untold amounts of tax dollars due to the negative perception that this legislation attaches to our state's image, and the bill hasn't even been signed into law yet," she said. Her organization wants Brewer to deep-six the measure "so that we can put this behind us swiftly and continue the business of welcoming visitors to Arizona."

LGBT advocates, including actor and social media titan George Takei, have promised an all-out boycott of the Grand Canyon State if Brewer signs the bill into law, which could potentially bring millions in additional losses.

Note to Governor Brewer: you really need to veto this bill. Sure, signing it (or letting it become law without your signature) would earn you some serious street cred with your homophobic Tea Party base, but it's becoming abundantly clear that it'd come at a heavy cost to the Arizona economy.

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