Protests Erupt Against Arizona's Anti-Gay Bill as Gov. Jan Brewer Weighs Options
Giving hope that just maybe we haven't been thrown back a century, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Arizona Friday to protest against the state's new anti-gay legislation, which passed both chambers of the Arizona state legislature on Thursday. The controversial (cough, disgusting) bill gives businesses and government agencies the right turn away pretty much anyone, as long as doing so is “substantially motivated by a religious belief.” It has yet to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, and it's still not clear which side she'll come down on.
Roughly 200 protestors joined a rally organized by Wingspan, a Southern Arizona non-profit LGBT community center, and marched on the governor state office building in Tucson on Friday afternoon; another 250 demonstrators congregated around the state capitol in Phoenix, holding signs which read, "What About Love Thy Neighbor?" in order to protest SB1062.
The bill, pushed forward mainly by conservative Republicans, provides legal protection for private and public businesses that decide not to serve someone, anyone, because of their religious beliefs. Similar bills have previously flopped in Kansas and Idaho, and, only earlier this week, three more states tried — and failed — to push forward legislation that would essentially do the same thing. Arizona, though, had no issues getting the measure through, voting on Thursday to make discrimination permissible “whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief” — thus, unfortunately, making history.
Shortly after the bill passed, the ACLU released the following statement:
The measure could in fact have an even bigger impact than the ACLU's statement suggests. Although the bill would most likely disproportionately affect the LGBT community, sexual orientation isn't specified as the only permissible grounds on which to refuse service — which means that the targets of discrimination could actually be far more widespread, potentially encompassing race or even gender.
Most people on the sane side of the aisle seem to be realizing just what a big deal this bill is — even Meghan McCain, John McCain's daughter, has called on Brewer to veto the legislation.
Others are voicing their indignation over Twitter — but whether Brewer will listen, remains to be seen.