Arizona

Why the Defeat of Arizona’s “Right to Discriminate” Bill Matters

Ryan Hurst is the membership services program coordinator for affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network.

Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, a bill that would have made it legal for businesses and employers to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people if it was due to a “deeply held religious belief.” Many Arizonans and national leaders on both sides of the aisle vehemently opposed it, including members of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network.  US Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar spoke out on MSNBC. Tovar also said in a statement:

SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation.

Supporters of SB 1062 and legislation like it have argued that it is necessary to protect the “right” of business owners to deny services to LGBT Americans. Why does fighting this flawed assumption matter? Why would LGBT Americans want to patronize a business that is trying to discriminate against them?

It matters because our values define who we are as a people.  Do we want to be an America that permits discrimination because we disagree with someone? An America that legislates away the dignity of a group of our fellow citizens? The desire to have and feel dignity is something that reaches into our very core. It is why African American students refused to get up from lunch counters during the civil rights movement. Though the circumstances behind those heroic acts were different, at least one of the core motivating factors is the same – the desire to have dignity and be valued as a human being.

We as a nation decided to set precedent as a result of the civil rights movement, that we would not allow ourselves to be defined by hate and ignorance, and that discrimination based on race, gender, disability, national origin, and religion would not be tolerated. Why would we hold love to a different standard? Like religion, it is deeply personal and central to who we are, and our freedom regarding that area of our lives is recognized as basic to the very concept of liberty. And we can no more change who we love than change our race, sex, or national origin.

Unfortunately Arizona was not alone in proposing a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to LGBT Americans. In all, 12 states had similar bills simultaneously working their way through their state legislatures. In the fallout from SB 1062, most of these states quietly killed these bills with little fanfare. But a few states like Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota are still considering similar legislation, and Oregon is even considering a ballot initiative.

It is time for us as a country to be bold and unapologetic about our rejection of discrimination. It is important for us to have conversations about why our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and neighbors and friends deserve dignity and equality. We must not be afraid to speak out in opposition to these bills if they are introduced in our state, and we must exercise our right to vote by removing elected officials from office that choose to support legislation that diminishes the dignity of others.
 

PFAW

A Small, But Important, Step Towards Common Sense in Judicial Confirmation Process

Last week, in advance of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on six Arizona district court nominees, senior legislative counsel Paul Gordon asked if Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain would be able to convince their Republican colleagues to break what has become their practice of routinely delaying nominees’ votes. Since 2009, only five of President Obama’s judicial nominees had been allowed to have their committee votes cast without delay. Gordon urged the Senators to forgo this obstruction, especially given the enormous caseload in Arizona that is impeding the operation of the Arizona district court that has 6 of its 13 seats vacant. 

Yesterday, in a departure from their practice, the Committee actually voted on the nominees. 91. 5 KJAZZ reported:

“The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called this a step toward fixing the judicial vacancy rate in Arizona, but noted that there are 28 people awaiting confirmation ahead of these nominees.”

Executive vice president Marge Baker also commented on the turn of events in an interview with Cronkite News:

“It wasn’t sustainable to keep delaying this process, and it seems that Arizona senators finally heeded reason. Arizona has had a terrible judicial vacancy rate. This is an important step towards fixing it.”

This was a relief for the state of Arizona, as well as a nice change of pace for Senate Republicans. But as a judicial vacancy crisis continues in Arizona and across the country, the work is far from over.

PFAW

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PFAW

PFAW Applauds Veto of Arizona Anti-Gay Discrimination Bill

WASHINGTON – In response to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto Senate Bill 1062, a measure that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“Almost four years after Arizona shocked the country with its anti-immigrant ‘show me your papers’ law, yesterday Governor Brewer avoided making her state the national leader, once again, in state-sponsored discrimination.

“In Arizona and across the country, Americans can see through the Right’s continued attempts to cloak anti-gay bigotry in the language of First Amendment rights. We hope that the pushback Arizona received this week will be a message, loud and clear, to the states with similar bills pending. Americans don’t want to live in a country where businesses have free rein to post a ‘No Gays’ sign.”

In the past week, tens of thousands of PFAW members and activists spoke out and urged Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

###

Tea Party Nation: Brewer's Veto Imposed 'Slavery,' Mandatory Penis Cakes For 'Homosexual Weddings'

Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation, is a little upset about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision last night to veto a bill that would have expanded the ability of business owners to discriminate against LGBT people and others.

“Tyranny is on the march,” Phillips declares in a piece on the TPN website that he also emailed to members of the group, adding that business owners who are not allowed to discriminate against gays and lesbians are “slaves” to the “great liberal state,” aided by “French Republicans” like Brewer.

“The left and the homosexual lobby are both pushing slavery using the Orwellian concepts of ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusiveness,’” he writes.

Phillips then wonders if business owners will be forced to “create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it,” “create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic],” or “photograph a homosexual wedding where the participants decide they want to be nude or engage in sexual behavior.”

The left and the homosexual lobby in America went into overdrive to kill this bill.  Conservatives rallied for this bill and Governor Brewer opted for cowardice instead of courage.

Why is this bill so important and what did it mean for not only Arizona but America?
The issue can be boiled down to one word: Freedom.

A free man or woman controls their labor.  A slave has no control over their labor.  A free man or woman decides who they will work for and under what conditions.  The slave cannot.

The left and the homosexual lobby are both pushing slavery using the Orwellian concepts of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.”

Immediately the left and the homosexual lobby went into high dudgeon.  Arizona’s SB1062 must be defeated because Americans really are no longer free and must be forced to serve the great liberal state, regardless of their beliefs.

The storm rose against Arizona and Jan Brewer proved she was no Ronald Reagan.  She has an honored place in the ranks of the French Republicans.

The left loves to come up with absurd hypotheticals to scream that there must be compliance with their fascism, so how about a couple from our side.  

Should a devote baker be required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it or should a baker be required to create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic]?  Or should a photographer be required to photograph a homosexual wedding where the participants decide they want to be nude or engage in sexual behavior?  Would they force a Jewish photographer to work a Klan or Nazi event? How about forcing a Muslim caterer to work a pork barbeque dinner?

...

SB1062 is a bigger story than simply the story of a cowardly governor who has no core beliefs.
SB1062 is the story of liberalism at work in America.

Liberalism is the paranoid belief that leftists have that somewhere, someone may be thinking for themselves.  It is the tyrannical belief that no deviation in belief is allowed from the decreed orthodoxy.

It is the antithesis of liberty.

It is tyranny on the march.
 

Fischer: Opposition To Arizona's Legal Discrimination Law Is Jim Crow Discrimination Against Christians

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer offered up another defense of the Arizona law that would allow businesses to legally discriminate against gay customers in the name of protecting "religious liberty," declaring that opposition to the law is itself an effort to institute Jim Crow laws that discriminate against Christians.

"Yeah, Jim Crow is back," Fischer said, "but it's because of the work of Big Gay and their allies, including the NFL."

Claiming that the NFL has threatened to move the Super Bowl from Arizona if Gov. Jan Brewer does not "bow the knee to the God of Gayness" and veto the legislation, Fischer asserted that the NFL is essentially trying to segregate Arizona from the rest of society.

"In other words, what the NFL is saying to Arizona [is that] if you don't bow the knee to the God of Gayness, you cannot sit at our lunch counter. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is Jim Crow":

Arizona Tea Party Group Defends SB 1062: 'The First Amendment Protects Only The Practice Of The Christian Faith'

An Arizona-based Tea Party group is rallying around the state’s ‘right-to-discriminate’ legislation, SB 1062, by claiming that “the First Amendment protects only the practice of the Christian faith.”

The Williams Tea Party of Coconino County defended the anti-gay bill on its website, alleging that “the First Amendment protects only the practice of the Christian faith” and that the First Amendment “protects the right of those of the Christian faith to not serve those who are clearly abhorrent to that faith.”

The group also attacked a pastor who joined a protest against the bill, saying that the pastor must not have read the Bible.

The First Amendment protects only the practice of the Christian faith.

The Arizona Republic gathered the twenty, or so, protestors against S.B. 1062 close together for a photo to place on the front cover of their Thursday edition. The gathering together is an attempt to show that thousands of protestors came to their demonstration.

In the center of the photo they placed a guy who just happens to be able to afford the tab-collar clergy shirt with a sign about how religions should be against this legislation. I am not sure from which Internet “U” this person obtained his certification, but they certainly had no requirement to read the Bible.

The “columnists” at the Republic are in full swing typing out their indignation at the “discrimination.”

Of course, when you are dealing with a group of people who get their Constitutional training from the Salon and Russia Today web sites, it is difficult for them to understand that this legislation should never have been written. You see, there is already a law that protects the right of those of the Christian faith to not serve those who are clearly abhorrent to that faith.

It’s called the First Amendment.



The First Amendment was meant only to protect the Christian faith. When the founders spoke of religion, they meant the Christian religion. They did not have to keep saying the Christian religion because everyone knew that is what they were talking about.

Gohmert Endorses Arizona Anti-Gay Bill For Challenging 'The Religion Of Secularism'

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) says he is a fan of the Arizona bill that would pave the way for legal anti-gay discrimination by businesses. Speaking today with Janet Mefferd, Gohmert said that the law would merely uphold constitutional principles.

“These are religious beliefs and how have we gotten so far afield from the Constitution that we say, well if you’re not willing to embrace the liberal beliefs that we have then your religious beliefs are not protected,” Gohmert said. “It doesn’t say that in the Frist Amendment, it avoids the establishment of a religion. Well some are establishing the religion of secularism and everybody else’s religion has just got to basically go to blazes.”

He also claimed President Obama would have lost the 2008 election if he had supported marriage equality then: “Let’s face it, if the president had said he believed marriage was between two men and two women back when he and [John] McCain were being interviewed in California, he would never have won the first election. But he changed his stated belief and that got him elected and once in it’s easier to get re-elected to a second term.”

Gohmert also claimed that the gay rights movement is undermining the Civil Rights Movement and moved the U.S. away from God.

“Some of them are very shocked, they participated in the Civil Rights Movement and then to turn around and have gay rights folks saying now ‘you can’t practice your religious beliefs,’ wait a minute, wait a minute, we stood up for you and your beliefs and now you’re saying we can’t stand up for our beliefs because they conflict with you? That’s now what freedom is about.”

Glenn Beck Supports Arizona's Legal Discrimination Law: 'That's Freedom'

Do you recall the story Glenn Beck told a few years back when he traveled to New York City and he was treated badly when he dined in several restaurants and then treated even worse on his flight back to Texas?

Beck railed about it on his program the following week, repeatedly complaining that he was treated "as a subhuman," stating that he "just wanted to be treated as a human" who was worthy of dignity and respect:

I’m tired of being treated as a criminal, a disease, mentally challenged, stupid, or subhuman just because I happen to believe that the founders weren’t racists, that the Constitution was and still is inspired and the greatest document for government ever created, that the military is not full of a bunch of baby‑killers, or that we shouldn’t spend the money that we don’t have, or that we should stick up for the little guy, the small business owner, that the corrupt businessman should go to jail and that capitalism is still the best system to lift people out of poverty. I will not shy away from saying proudly that I believe in God, that I believe churchgoers in all churches get a bad rap. We are good people and the reason, Christians are the reason the Nazis were stopped, slavery was stopped, and man was eventually set free all over the planet. It was Christians that did it. I’m sorry that you might find that offensive, or that I ‑‑ that I go to church and you find that offensive, or that I happen to go to the wrong church and you find that offensive. But I will not apologize for what I believe in or who I am. Because what I believe in compels me to stand up for you and your right to be who you are. I’d just like to be treated with a little dignity along the way.

Given that experience, you'd think that he would be opposed to the Arizona legislation that would allow business to discriminate against gay customers (or anyone else, for that matter) in the name of "religious liberty," would you not?

Well, you'd be wrong, as he voiced his support for it during yesterday's morning meeting, saying that while he doesn't necessarily like it, he doesn't see anything hateful about it.

"I don't like that world," Beck said, "where everybody is able to say 'I'm not going to serve your kind' but that's freedom. That's freedom. Freedom is ugly":

Cathi Herrod: Soldiers Fought Wars To Preserve Right To Discriminate Against Gays

The president of a right-wing Arizona group that’s advocating for the state’s gay segregation bill said yesterday that the extremist legislation is simply an expression of the religious freedom that American service members fight to preserve.

Speaking withto Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on yesterday’s edition of Washington Watch, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy accused the bill’s opponents of “incredible hostility to religion.”

“Our first freedom, our ability to live out our religious belief as our founders intended, as wars have been fought for our right to live out our religious belief, that is what is very much under attack,” Herrod said, adding that she is shocked that people would oppose the right-to-discriminate bill. “This was non-controversial until the last four or five days.”

She told Perkins that listeners should “pray for a miracle and to pray for an intervention” for the governor to sign the legislation.

ADF: Religious People Will Become 'Second Class Citizens' If Gay Segregation Bill Isn't Signed Into Law

In an interview yesterday on Line of Fire Radio, Alliance Defending Freedom counsel Joseph La Rue defended the Arizona gay segregation that bill the ADF helped craft.

La Rue insisted that religious people will be “treated as second class citizens by their government” if the legislation — passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature — isn’t signed into law, and preposterously claimed that the bill “is not about denying service.”

“Comparing it to Jim Crow is just beyond the pale,” he said.

Fischer: Gay Activists Are 'Jack-Booted Homofascist Thugs'

Last week, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would allow businesses to legally discriminate against gay customers in the name of "religious liberty."

Predictably, Bryan Fischer has come out strongly in support of the law on the grounds that gay activists are "jack-booted homofascist thugs" who are trying to force Christian business owners to engage in sin.

"They are jack-booted homofascist thugs," Fischer said "who want to use the totalitarian and tyrannical power of the state to send men of faith to jail. That sounds far more like Nazi Germany than the United States of America":

Pressure Mounts for Brewer to Veto Anti-Gay Law

Ever since Arizona’s legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers, pressure has been mounting on Governor Jan Brewer to veto the law.

The bill has drawn sharp criticism from LGBT and human rights groups (in addition to quick witted pizza shop owners and crewmembers of the Starship Enterprise) and now GOP politicians are lining up to call for it to be blocked. Last week, the state’s junior senator, Jeff Flake, tweeted his opposition to the law. This morning he was joined by the state's senior senator, John McCain. As if that weren't enough, TPM reports that state senator Steve Pierce, who voted for the legislation, is reversing himself and calling on Brewer to issue a veto.

It’s clear that the issue isn’t going away soon. Despite the already embarrassing attention that Arizona has received since the law was passed, Governor Brewer still has the opportunity to avoid adding another black mark on her state’s recent history. Millions of Americans are watching closely.

PFAW

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Historic Nomination: Diane Humetewa Would Be First Native American Woman On Federal Bench

A historic nomination by President Obama is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee: Diane Humetewa is poised to become the first Native American woman on the federal judiciary. Humetewa is a highly qualified nominee with bipartisan support. She was nominated by President Obama with Senator McCain ’s recommendation to serve on the federal judiciary and was previously appointed by President Bush as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had Humetewa’s confirmation hearing on January 29, and her committee vote has been scheduled for this Thursday, February 13. But there is already a growing line of nominees stalled on the Senate floor unable to get a confirmation vote. On January 29, 29 nominees were stalled, and by February 6 the waiting list grew to 32 nominees who are stuck at Senate floor step in the confirmation process. Humetewa and her five fellow Arizona nominees will be added to the end of this already unacceptably long line.

In the meantime, Arizona needs qualified judges like Humetewa to fill its six federal judicial vacancies

If Diane Humetewa is confirmed, she will be the:

First Native American woman to serve as a judge in a federal court;

Third Native American to be a federal judge; and

Only Native American in active service on the federal bench.

Diversity on the federal bench is always important, and Indian legal advocates and tribal leaders have emphasized the need for federal judges who understand Indian Law in particular.

Many Americans know little more about the complexities of Indian tribal laws—and their unique relationship to state and federal laws. Indian sovereign authority, recognized by federal law, extends to the Indian tribal courts that adjudicate Indian affairs-related matters. Some law firms have a specialized practice area in Indian law. Some law schools, such as Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law where Humetewa is a professor, have an Indian legal program “to promote an understanding of the differences between the legal systems of Indian Nations and those of the state and federal governments.”

“Indian legal experts have long said that tribal law gets shortchanged in the federal legal arena because so few judges are well-versed and experienced in it. This is one reason why federal cases are often harmful to tribal and Indian interests, according to many tribal analyses,” reported Indian Country Today after Republican Senators blocked Avro Mikkanen, a Native American previously nominated by President Obama to the federal judiciary.

The National Congress of American Indians applauded the nomination of Diane Humetewa and particularly noted her firsthand experience in federal Indian law. Humetewa’s Indian law background includes her work as an attorney on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee and an Appellate Judge on the Hopi Appellate Court.

This is an important nomination for which President Obama—and all Americans—should be proud. The Judiciary Committee should act expeditiously on this opportunity to make this federal judicial nomination a historic confirmation. That means that Republicans should not demand a needless delay in the committee vote as they have done in all but five cases since Obama became president.  It also means the full Senate should finally be allowed to hold confirmation votes on the 32 nominees ahead of Humetewa and her fellow Arizonans.

PFAW

Kobach Still Struggling To Clean Up Kansas Voter Registration Mess

A strict proof-of-citizenship requirement for Kansas voters pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach has now suspended the voting rights of over 19,000 Kansans who were unable to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship to election officials, and Kobach continues to struggle to clean up the mess the law has made.

In his latest attempt to fix the problem, Kobach has arranged with another state agency to start checking the names of voters in limbo against birth certificate records to confirm voters’ citizenship.

The problem? The birth certificate search will only find voters born in Kansas, and it may not catch people, such as married women, who have changed their names. The Kansas City Star interviewed Kobach, who explained that he was simply practicing “good government” and providing an “extra service”:

The state’s vital statistics office will compare lists of would-be voters to its records. Kobach’s office would be notified when matches are confirmed. The procedure will be followed in the future as Kansans register to vote.

“This, in my view, is good government,” Kobach said.

But critics were quick to point out that Kobach’s idea could pose constitutional problems because it treats voters born in Kansas differently from voters born elsewhere.

It also raises questions about how women might be treated. Many change their names after getting married and might not be matched with birth records kept by the state.

“That is not actually going to work,” said Doug Bonney, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri.

Kobach said provisions will be made for women. He said the state health department tracks name changes and those records will be matched against the voting records.

Kobach, however, conceded that prospective voters born in Kansas will benefit more than voters born in another state.

He said there are many examples throughout government where people might have an advantage because of their age, marital status or residence.

“It’s an extra service but it’s not something that would amount to a violation of equal protection of law,” he said.

This is only Kobach’s latest attempt to clean up the mess that his law has created. Along with Arizona, he has sued the federal government to allow Kansas to require proof of citizenship with the federal voter registration form. He has said that if he loses that case he’ll move to set up a two-tiered voting system in the state in which those who register with the federal form without additional proof of citizenship are barred from voting in state elections.

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