Monday Open Thread [2.24.14]

Filed in National, Open Thread by on February 24, 2014

Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a pro-discrimination bill last week that gives government sanction to any form of discrimination that a bigot wishes to practice. Now, obviously this law is blatantly unconstitutional and it will not survive its first encounter with a judge, any judge, anywhere. And Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a similar bill last year. So there are hopes that this bill will never take affect as law. But to prod Brewer along, and to punish the bigots who call themselves the Republican legislators, George Takei has sent a message to the people of Arizona.

Dear Arizona,

Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.

Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.

But not you, Arizona. You’re 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.

This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.

The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.

So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.

And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.

So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.

George Takei

Good. I am all for the complete destruction of bigots in nearly all forms. I want their businesses destroyed. I want their livelihood destroyed. I want them shunned by society. Given George Takei’s social media standing, his media savy, and his wonderful oratory, Arizona has just made a powerful enemy.

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  1. Jason330 says:

    How horrible does the AZ Legislature have to be in order to make Jan Brewer seem like the same person in the room?

    It turns out, the legislature is in the thrall of this Caesar Rodney Institute type wingnut “think tank” called the Center for Arizona Policy which keeps turning out this crazy ass shit.

    You allow the Koch bros into your state legislature and you get what you get. In Arizona’s case you get bigotry tarted up to try and look like “religious freedom” and the conservative victimology that is the handmaiden of the wingnut version of “religious freedom.”

    Statement from CAP President Cathi Herrod on SB 1062

    “The attacks on SB 1062 show politics at its absolute worse. They represent precisely why so many people are sick of the modern political debate. Instead of having an honest discussion about the true meaning of religious liberty, opponents of the bill have hijacked this discussion through lies, personal attacks, and irresponsible reporting.

    Our elected leaders have a fundamental duty to protect the religious freedom of every Arizonan, and that’s what SB 1062 is all about.

    Simply put, the fear-mongering from opponents is unrelated to the language of the bill, and proves that hostility towards people of faith is very real. It’s a shame we even need a bill like this in America. But growing hostility against freedom in our nation, and the increasing use of government to threaten and punish its own citizens, has made it necessary.

    I urge Governor Brewer to send a clear message to the country that in Arizona, everyone, regardless of their faith, will be protected in Arizona by signing SB 1062.”

  2. SussexAnon says:

    This isn’t just a “turn away the gays” bill.

    Business’ would be allowed to discriminate against anyone they choose based on the business’ religious beliefs.

  3. Tom McKenney says:

    With the Super Bowl scheduled for Arizona next year, there is no way Gov. Brewer will not veto that bill.

  4. bamboozer says:

    Three Republicans that voted for the bill are now petitioning Brewer to veto it and I dare say she will. As for “religious freedom” I see it as code for discrimination, yet another rebranding of the same old hatreds of the religious right.