The Too-Slow Death of 1062

By Jeffrey Page

It took long enough, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, after several days of contemplation, finally found the need to veto a piece of legislation that would have set civil rights statutes in the morning trash.

As you probably know, State Senate Bill 1062 would have restored some of the odious Jim Crow laws of decades ago – not that its sponsors would agree. Briefly, SB-1062 would give shopkeepers and business people the right to refuse to serve gay men and lesbians. Arizona knew just how to talk up SB-1062. It wasn’t anti-gay, Arizona said, it was pro-religious freedom.

Arizona has good practice in describing certain travesties. It’s Arizona, after all, where police officers are required to check the immigration status of anyone who looks like he might be in the U.S. illegally. Can you take a guess who the state has in mind? Clue: It’s not Poles, Lithuanians or Canadians.

SB-1062 might have reminded you of the south before the Sixties, but its supporters say it was really a matter of ensuring religious freedom. Take a grocery store owner, for example. If he can show that selling a can of tomato soup or a pack of English muffins to a gay couple would violate his “strongly held religious beliefs,” he could point to the door and tell the two not to come back.

Question: Where in the Bible does it note that God would be greatly offended if he ran a luncheonette in Phoenix and two lesbians walked in to order tuna sandwiches on rye and coffee?

Question: Where in the Constitution of the United States did the framers define marriage?

And if SB-1062 – approved by the Arizona State Senate by an anemic vote of 17 to 13 and by a less than overwhelming Assembly vote of 33 to 27 – had become law, how easy or difficult would it be to allow shopkeepers with “strongly held religious beliefs” to refuse service to certain other people who don’t hold those same beliefs.

In considering undoing what the State Senate did on Feb. 19, Governor Brewer consulted with politicians and business people who feared that SB-1062 would harm the Arizona economy. She most likely was pushed along the road to veto by the National Football League’s starting talks on yanking next season’s Super Bowl game out of Phoenix if SB-1062 was enacted. It could be said that in Arizona, the economy trumps “strongly held religious beliefs.”

The NFL, several corporations, politicians from around the country, and Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, all appealed to brewer to make SB-1062 disappear.

They were joined by three of the state senators who voted in favor of SB-1062 and who were now looking for a way to kill it. Their reasoning for introducing the bill was misunderstood, they said.

In their letter to the governor, the three state senators said: “We must send a clear message that Arizona is a state that values religious tolerance and protects and values each individual’s ability to follow the dictates of their [sic] own conscience.”

That’s about as close as they ever got to the word “gay.”

Next, the measure went to Brewer for approval or veto. It took her seven days to kill SB-1062. It should have taken seven seconds.

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2 Responses to “The Too-Slow Death of 1062”

  1. Jo Galante Cicale Says:

    it was peculiar why the veto took so long. it was also frustrating to hear all the talk about economic downfall for arizona. i didn’t hear much about a veto based on the fact that this bill was morally bankrupt. as many others said, the argument over who gets to sit at the lunch counter was already fought and won. i still think we should be cool to arizona.

  2. Lenore Poggioli Says:

    The fact that a bill of that sort could ever get to the Governor is reprehensible. It was a morally bankrupt piece of legislation. More infuriating is that Arizona is not the only state attempting this type of statute. So are Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia. All under the guise of religious freedom. Rational people in this country need to become far more active than we are and use our voting privilege carefully to be sure that our country stays a truly free country for all.

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