Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Governor Brewer's Plight

With both houses of Arizona’s legislature having passed SB1062 which would allow the state’s business owners to deny service to patron based on religious beliefs - which many believe would target the LGBT community - the question now becomes what will governor Jan Brewer do: sign or veto? There are of course people who are urging her to sign the bill in support of religious liberty. But there are many who are urging her to veto the bill.

Some of the people and groups in opposition to the bill, which has been dubbed the “Turn Away the Gays” bill, are not very surprising. Many LGBT groups have denounced the bill. George Takei specifically is suggesting a boycott of the entire state should the governor sign the bill. The mayor of the state’s largest city - Phoenix - is also against it. As happens with many state bills that support discrimination, many businesses and business groups have also come out against this measure. According to Outsports, with the 2015 Super Bowl located in Arizona, not to mention the state being home to a football team (the Cardinals), even the NFL has weighed in:
Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.
The idea has even been mentioned by the Governor Jack Markell (D-DE)  that should the bill become law, the Super Bowl should be moved. This is not without precedent, though such a decision would not be made until the end of March if at all. Other businesses have also cautioned the governor against signing the bill into law. These businesses include Apple Inc., which, according to Think Progress, is slated to start construction on a facility in the state that will provide approximately 700 permanent jobs plus hundreds of construction jobs. Studies have shown that discriminatory policies are bad for business, which explains why so many businesses and chambers of commerce either denounce such measures, have anti-discrimination policies of their own, or both.

Some of the calls for a veto are coming from some…less than expected sources. Both of Arizona’s U.S. senators - Jeff Flake and John McCain, both fellow Republicans, and neither of whom have been friends of the LGBT community - have made public statements against the bill.

Tuesday night, former GOP banner-bearer and presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for a veto. Hours later, former Republican Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives Newt Gingrich did said via Twitter that in Governor Brewer‘s position, he would veto the bill. Even three state legislators who voted for the bill have now reversed course, including one of the bill’s cosponsors, Bob Worsley. Two of Worsley’s fellow Senate Republicans - Steve Pierce and Majority Whip Adam Driggs - issued a statement made available to Huffington Post that asked Governor Brewer to veto the bill. 

After all of this backlash and bad press, legislators who voted for and still support the bill are avoiding the press like the plague. 

During the day on Tuesday, reports swirled that Brewer was likely to veto the bill. These claims were, hours later, denied by the governor’s office (Brewer was not even in the state at the time). Brewer has been a bit of a wild card, very unpredictable. She issued a statement saying she would do what is right for Arizona with this bill. What is right is very subjective, and even with so many forces arrayed against this bill - from both left and right - what she will do is anyone’s guess.

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