The 3 Best Responses To Arizona's Awful Anti-Gay Bill: George Takei, Anderson Cooper, And Rabbi Stephen Kahn
Time is ticking for Gov. Jan Brewer, who must decide this week whether to veto a bill that would effectively permit Arizona businesses to ban gay customers. The "religious freedom" bill SB 1062 was unfortunately passed through the state legislature Thursday. It would allow Arizona businesses to turn away almost anyone on the basis of the owners' religious beliefs, which sets up Arizona's LGBT community as an obvious target. The bill sparked heated protests in Arizona, and a national outcry against discrimination.
Brewer says she will make her decision later this week, after she gets back from Washington. The bill made it to her desk Monday, and she has five days to take action. If she signs it — or if she does nothing — it will become law.
Several organizations, businesses, and prominent figures have spoken out against the bill, urging Brewer to toss it. Not only would it impede equal rights, it makes zero business sense. American Airlines spoke out against the legislation, saying it has already deterred visitors to Arizona's already shaky tourism industry.
Ahead of the 2015 Super Bowl in Arizona, both the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals expressed concern over the bill, and the Super Bowl Committee says it completely refuses the legislation. (The state already had the Super Bowl moved once before, when it was relocated in 1993 to California after Arizona voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a holiday.) A Tucson pizzeria even put a sign up in their door in protest that read, "We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators."
On the political front, Brewer is taking heat from prominent members of her own party, including Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.
In Washington, Brewer had this to say:
I am a woman, and I don't rely a whole lot on my gut. I have to look at what it says and what the law says, and take that information and do the right thing. But I can assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the state of Arizona.
Maybe these passionate responses can help you decide on the "right thing," gov:
George Takei Takes On Arizona's Bigots
In a blog post titled "Razing Arizona," Star Trek alum George Takei condemned Arizona's “turn away the gay” bill. Openly gay Takei wrote that he believes the bill will extend discrimination to taxis, hotels, and restaurants. And he's disgusted, writes Takei, that legislators know if will never pass, but want to "make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear."
[Arizona is] willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects 'religious freedom,' but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used 'God’s Will' as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.
Takei says his partner was born in Phoenix and the couple vacations in an Arizona town, but he promises they will never set foot in the state again — and they will encourage everyone they know to never visit.
Arizona Has No Discrimination, Senator Tells Anderson Cooper
Master of burn (and CNN anchor) Anderson Cooper interrogated Arizona state Sen. Al Melvin about the bill Monday night. Cooper pointed out that Arizona doesn't have a law against banning or firing gay people, so there's no need for it in the first place. Even though Melvin said the bill is focused on religious freedom, even he couldn't think of any example where religious freedom has been under attack in Arizona.
In fact, Melvin went as far as to tell Cooper: "I don’t know of anybody in Arizona who would discriminate against a fellow human being." He also told Cooper that, hey, maybe he should move there.
"All of the pillars of society as we know it today are under attack," Melvin went on to insist.
Rabbi Points Out Religious Freedoms Would Take A Blow, Too
Rabbi Stephen Kahn of Scottsdale’s Congregation Beth Israel is among the many voices urging Gov. Brewer to veto SB 1062. He wrote that it'll affect more than just the LGBT community — it'll give business owners the right to shoo away anyone based on their religion.
According to Kahn, the bill goes against everything religious freedom stands for in America.
I cannot help but recall the spirit of the Third Reich’s laws established in 1935 at Nuremberg which legally permitted discrimination and anti-Semitism under the same implicit legislative construct as the bills passed earlier this week. As a Jew, I cannot help but feel that if a business owner, who is “informed” by their interpretation of 'scripture' that a Jewish person cannot eat at their restaurant because I do not accept Christ as 'Savior' that they would indeed have the legally supported permission to deny me service in their place of business.
So come on, Brewer. Do "the right thing:" everything you can to block this shameful piece of legislation from becoming law.