If Arizona's anti-immigrant law wasn't enough to tarnish the state's reputation, the state's "religious freedom" bill already is causing plenty of damage.
Despite a huge outpouring of opposition toward the bill from Arizona residents, business groups, and even Republican lawmakers not in the state Legislature, the state's once again being painted as the land of hatred, thanks to Senate Bill 1062.
The bill would expand the rights of businesses to make exercise-of-religion claims in court. Senate Bill 1062 sponsor Republican Steve Yarbrough specifically has likened his legislation to the case in New Mexico, in which a wedding photographer refused to photograph a lesbian couple's wedding. Yarbrough's bill would give the photographer a defense of exercising a "sincerely held religious belief," if that were an Arizona case.
The bill is seen as an anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bill because LGBT people are not recognized as a "protected class" of people under Arizona law.
Governor Jan Brewer still has the rest of the week to decide whether to veto the legislation, but the fact that the Republican-controlled Legislature was able to pass the bill has already sparked enough outrage.
Several Democrats who fought against the bill said that SB 1062 was going to rank right up there with SB 1070 and former Governor Evan Mecham's fight against Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Arizona in the late '80s. ("You folks don't need another holiday," Mecham was quoted as saying. "What you folks need are jobs.")
Based on the national news media's response to the bill so far, it looks like those Dems might be right. Below, find a few examples of how Arizona's being portrayed to the rest of the country, thanks to SB 1062:
- New York Times: Religious Right in Arizona Cheers Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse to Serve Gays
- ABC News: Former Bush Strategist: Anti-LGBT Law Uses Christianity Like Muslim Terrorists Use Islam
- Satire from the New Yorker: Arizona Governor Fears Government Regulation Could Ruin Bigotry and Hatred
- Retired Federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin: Suppose Amazon Decided Not to Sell to Anyone Who Had an Abortion?
- Arizona State University professor Matthew C. Whitaker on CNN: Arizona's shameful 'right to discriminate' bill
- Former Star Trek actor George Takei: If the "turn away the gay" bill becomes law, be ready to face the fire, Arizona
- New York Daily News: Stasi: New anti-gay bill proves Arizona is the land of dinosaurs -- and bigots
- Los Angeles Times: Gay rights activists in uproar over Arizona 'religious freedom' bill
- The Daily Show: Jon Stewart provides an update on the "meth lab of democracy"
- Ken Jennings, 74-time Jeopardy! champion:
Arizona: when you are making Utah look sort of normal and chill, you are doing it wrong.
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) February 22, 2014
As was the case with SB 1070, all the protests and opposition to the bill won't be what's remembered if Governor Jan Brewer signs SB 1062 into law -- it'll just be another reason to look down on Arizona.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
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