Last night, Anderson Cooper interviewed Arizona Republican state senator Al Melvin, a supporter of SB1062, the anti-gay “religious freedom” law that would permit people in the state to ignore practically any law that they claim impinges on their religious beliefs.
I’m calling SB1062 the “Stand Your God” law, in a nod to the “Stand Your Ground” laws that let people in Florida and other states shoot dead anyone who offends their delicate sensibilities.
In a move that smacks of Citizens United for religion, the new law would also recognize corporations as “people” who have religious beliefs, and thus will be permitted to discriminate based on those beliefs, particularly, but not exclusively, against gays.
The law, which is part of a larger pattern of similar laws being offered by Republicans in multiple states at once, is now before the state’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, who has yet to decide if she’s going to sign it.
In Anderson’s interview, you’ll note that the state senator, who’s running for governor, isn’t quite all there. But when in doubt, his staff clearly told him “mention religious freedom.”
ANDERSON COOPER: You say it’s all about protecting people of faith in Arizona, can you give me a specific example of someone in Arizona who’s been forced to do something against their religious belief, or who’s been successfully sued because of their faith?
ARIZONA STATE SENATOR MELVIN: Again, I think if anything this bill is pre-emptive, to protect priests.
ANDERSON COOPER: You can’t give me one example of this actually happening.
ARIZONA STATE SENATOR MELVIN: No, I can’t. But we’ve seen it in other states, and we don’t want it to happen here.
ANDERSON COOPER: But it’s happened in other states that have laws protecting gay people, specifically, that’s what this bill is all about. And in Arizona they don’t have laws protecting gay people, so it can’t happen in Arizona.
ARIZONA STATE SENATOR MELVIN: Well, sir, the bottom line is, this is not a discrimination bill, this is a religious freedom bill.
This is when Anderson gave Melvin his “you’re kind of a blithering idiot” look:
Melvin then goes off on how Arizona is the best place in the country to create a business, and how he doesn’t think anyone in the state would ever discriminate against anyone.
First off, good luck with Arizona getting any major new businesses to move in if the governor signs this law.
The first thing we’re going to do is make sure the Super Bowl doesn’t step foot in Arizona – it’s due to take place there in February of 2015, and the governor of Delaware has already called for the NFL to move the game if SB1062 becomes law.
The second thing is making sure that Google and Apple cancel their plans to move in to the state. Then we’re going to get every professional association on the planet to cancel their conferences.
It’s not like this is our first time at the hate rodeo. We know how to fight these battles, and we win.
I’ve talked to a number of gay and straight friends about this. Clearly, the Republican party, in cahoots with the national religious right, has decided to launch these legislative attacks against gay people nationwide, and the buck has to stop in Arizona, or they are going legalize discrimination against everyone, nationwide, in the name of their, but not your, religion.
If Arizona passes this law, they’re going to see a boycott of business and tourism to that state like they’ve never seen before, and it’s going to start with Apple, Google and the Super Bowl.