Arizona governor Brewer vetoes controversial anti-gay law, Ohio pulls similar bill after Brewer’s veto

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial anti-gay law SB1062, that’s been the subject of so much outrage this week.

And following Brewer’s veto, Ohio legislators have pulled their version of the same bill, while Mississippi lawmakers (yes, Mississippi) have stripped the Arizona-esque portions of their pending “religious freedom” bill.  (More on those states below.)

The so-called “religious freedom” legislation, which has been shopped around the country to GOP lawmakers by an unnamed organization, passed the Arizona state legislature late last week and has been sitting on the governor’s desk for her possible signature.

In the ensuing days, the issue exploded.

Not only were gay rights advocates and the typical liberal allies incensed, but business leaders and even national Republican voices like Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and Arizona GOP Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake called on Brewer to veto the bill.

And tonight she did.

arizona-brewer-veto2

Things got so bad for Arizona that even Fox News came out against the bill, twice.  And when you’re too conservative for Fox…

A friend of mine had an interesting theory as to why there was such an outcry against this bill.  It’s not enough to say that SB1062 was really anti-gay (even though it was).  Lots of homophobic legislation gets passed in the states, some of it even in Arizona.  And it’s not enough to say that this bill was particularly homophobic.  I’m not sure anything strikes the GOP base as “particularly homophobic,” regardless of how nasty it is.  My friend thinks, however, that Brewer didn’t want to be seen as Putin.  He thinksk that Russian homophobia has been so showcased over the lead-up to the Olympics, that even American conservatives don’t want to be seen as being as bad as “them.”

I have a different theory.  I think, in part, times are-a-changing, and it’s getting harder and harder for politicians to be anti-gay because the country, overall, isn’t (well, not as much as they were).  And to the degree we still are a homophobic country, it’s not with the vehemence there was once on our issues.  Sure, the religious right still hates gays’ guts, but a growing number of Republican lawmakers probably couldn’t care less.

And GOP voters feel the same.  A lot probably don’t care about the culture wars, particularly younger voters.  And we know the Republicans have been increasingly fretting about their dwindling prospects among youth, gays, blacks, women and Latinos.  I think they saw SB1062 as yet another golden opportunity to shoot the GOP in the foot as it tries, somewhat unsuccessfully, to rebrand itself as the party of kinder bigotry and gentler intolerance.

And finally, the bill was doomed because it did go too far.  And not just against the gays, against everyone.  Even Jews, Mormons, and Catholics started wondering if SB1062 meant they might get turned away from a business, or a hospital, that didn’t like their faith.  And businesses were scared to death of the bill, which seemed to suggest that anyone could vitiate any contractual arrangement, or court order, if the Bible tells them so.  It’s awfully hard to do business when you can no longer trust the basic tenets of contract law.

Phoenix isn’t Moscow.  Arizona would have to go a long way to become as bad as Putin’s Russia.  In Russia, they passed a law last year that makes it practically illegal to be openly gay at all.  And at the same time, gays are now being kidnapped by neo-Nazi gangs, and the Putin regime, which once only gave a tacit nod of approval to the thugs, is now openly defending the Hitler-loving kidnappers (while NYC and NY state invest in the oligarch who controls the company the neo-Nazis use to organize their crimes).  None of that is happening in Phoenix.

But what is happening in Arizona, and far too many states, is a decades-old effort to demonize gays and lesbians, led by the religious right, and incessantly quarterbacked by the Republican party.  And their legislative gay-bashing has reinforced a culture of intolerance that leads to, among other things, violence against gays and lesbians, but also other groups the Republicans think less of, be they Latino, black, female or an immigrant.

So no, Arizona isn’t Russia.  But Arizona tried to put itself on the path to becoming Russia.  And the issue, thankfully, blew up in its face.

And then a funny thing happened. Just a few minutes ago, Ohio legislators announced that they were pulling similar legislation that was being offered in their state.

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And Mississippi has now reportedly scaled back similar legislation it’s considering, so as not to repeat the mistakes of Arizona (though, obviously, people are going to need to scour that bill to make sure it’s not as bad).

The subcommittee removed a key provision of SB 2681 ahead of Thursday’s consideration of the bill by the House Judiciary Committee B. The provision provides that a defendant in a discrimination lawsuit can assert a claim of defense on the grounds of a burden being placed on religious beliefs.

The ACLU said the provision would allow businesses to turn away customers on religious grounds and government officials to refuse to hire based on religious beliefs.

Seeking to quell the tide of state and national opposition that has grown the past couple of days, the Civil Subcommittee voted to mold the bill after the federal government’s 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amendment limits the bill to addressing actions by government — not individuals or businesses.

The amended bill is far more acceptable to the Mississippi business community, said Blake Wilson, president & CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, which serves as the state Chamber of Commerce.

Keep in mind that Mississippi only “officially” abolished slavery last year.  So if this stuff is too repugnant for even Mississippi, it’s gotta be really bad.

In the end, the religious right may have done us all a favor.  By so over-reaching in their zeal to bash gays, they may have finally put a stake through the heart of this legislation once and for all.  Boy, I’d hate to be the religious right group that pedaled this garbage across to the nation to all those all-too-willing GOP lawmakers.  Someone’s got some explaining to do.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Bj Lincoln

    The more the GOP and their sidekick, the Religious Right, keeps up the nasty hateful bids for laws that kick LGBT people in the teeth, the better! Every time they come up with something that would cause inequality, the government/companies/people will see them for what they truly are.
    Un-American. Religion is fine. I could care less what a person believes in as long as it does not deny me services in public businesses or become law that would treat me as less than the taxpaying upstanding American I am.

  • JayChong

    This debate is quite a fun one. On the liberal side, the libertarians might be existing the train when same-sex couple rights begin to conflict with business rights. On the conservative side, big business and religious right activities may soon be getting divorced. If people only see the “equality” side of the debate, they might miss the impending political fall outs.
    http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2014/03

  • Schuyler Thorpe

    Those that have “championed” these hateful bills have gone back into hiding–away from the public eye and the press. They don’t want to talk to anyone about what they tried to muscle through.

    Some are blaming the gay and lesbian community. Some are blaming liberals. But most of all, none are taking personal responsibility for the hell they were about to unleash upon their respective communities.

  • future_man

    Gay bakers have been making some nice cakes for heterosexual weddings for a while now…and we are fortunate to live in a time in which a majority of people feel they’d like to return that sort of favor…so I’ll take this as a feel good moment.

  • ckg1

    Bring the pitchforks and torches to the EPPC. While you’re at it, sic Anonymous on this bunch of jokers too.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right. There are no intelligent people in Arizona anymore.
    Let me change that to successful people. And we all know successful doesn’t mean smart.

  • emjayay

    LETTERS LIKE THESE ARE CREATED BY PRESSING THE SHIFT KEY AT EACH SIDE OF THE KEYBOARD AT THE SAME TIME ONE PRESSES A LETTER KEY.

  • emjayay

    Don’t be silly. The law was in no way intended to empower Muslims or Hindus or anyone other than good Saved By Jesus Fundamentalist Christians to discriminate just as God personally told them to. Seriously. That is as far as their thinking went.

  • emjayay

    I suspect that it was more than tourism, but companies like Google moving some operations to Arizona or not that carried the most weight.

  • gratuitous

    Proposed title for this legislation as it’s coincidentally introduced in state legislatures around the nation: The We Want To See If You’re Paying Attention Act.

    Use it freely, bigots. No charge.

  • SL Abrin

    This veto comes at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce. Now y’all know who runs things around here.

  • Clevelandchick

    The very horrible no good Democratic state rep Bill Patmon (from the Cleveland area..a ‘blue’ city), who co-sponsored Ohio’s version of the bill was on our local NPR station this am. He & his Republican co-sponsor have every intention of reintroducing a revised bill later in the year. He promises that version will have protections for LGBT against discrimination. But he feels very strongly the bill is vital to protect Christians from persecution. This feeb has no clue that our @#$%-ing Constitution already does that. Meanwhile our state is 44th in job creation. I’m so disgusted the Ohio Democratic Party hasn’t leaned on this piece of garbage.

  • Silver_Witch

    I hope you are right rmthunter – I worry that they will find the “right phrase” that will allow them to invoke all their hollier than than beliefs. But I didn’t think Brewer would veto this one – so I am happy to be proven wrong and hope it continues in this very same way.

  • evodevo

    Who coulda knowd – the AZ Teabagger Guvnor would have chickened out !!!

  • 2karmanot

    Good link!

  • AnthonyLook

    Ohio pulled the bill; but stay alert. They have not even begun to realize and accept defeat on this matter. Republicans are busy in many states through out the country reformulating the wording to try to FINAGLE their discriminatory legislation through. Stay alert.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    Their problem is that they can’t draft a bill like this singling out one group — that won’t pass constitutional muster, especially if the Supreme Court goes along with those district courts that are finding that laws directed against gays and lesbians must be examined under heightened or strict scrutiny.

    But they’re welcome to keep trying. I can’t think of a better way for them to turn off the majority of Americans.

  • Silver_Witch

    I agree they will be back – when they can figure out how to re-write the bill to only be enforceable against gays, latinos, other people of color and women. They made a big mistake, they wrote this bill so that the “other” could also refuse them service and well that will never pass for them.

  • basenjilover

    Fine and dandy, Brewer vetoed SB 1062, however I feel we need to pressure NFL to move super bowl from Arizona. “Those who forget the history (past) are doomed to repeat it”. Hispanic Bar Association understood this and pulled its annual meeting from Arizona. BTW, I emailed CEO Lenhardt (PetSmart) to thank him for speaking out against the hateful SB 1062.

  • BlueIdaho

    She vetoed the bill because of the fear of future lost revenue. Not because she thinks the GLBT community deserves equal rights. Deep inside that dark heart of hers she loved that bill as written.

  • vickif

    That was a pizza place with Chicago in it’s name.

  • Nancy

    I think the issue most people are missing in the first place is that being gay isn’t a religion all about discrimination and nobody has the right to discriminate against anybody and I can’t believe anybody is stupid enough to have even bring up such a law and I live in tn this state I think it’s ridiculous !

  • A_nonymoose

    I believe something similar is making the rounds here in Tennessee, and we’ve got enough crazy in our legislature that I think it would pass . . .

  • TheOriginalLiz

    The bill wasn’t signed because it was not a tool only the bigoted homophobes could use, it was “too broad a brush” and will be fine-tuned and resubmitted.

  • nicho

    Intelligent people? Hardly. This bill was bad for business, and corporatists stepped in to protect profits. If this bill were going to have a neutral effect on profits, while still discriminating against gays, it would be law today.

  • Indigo

    And, as I’m sure you know, here in Florid’oh, we’ve got plenty of willfully blind folks wandering around.

  • Gindy51

    Yes they will be back, with something even more nefariously written. They may actually get someone who knows how to write a sneaky bill this time instead of a person who flings shit on a wall to see what sticks.
    As for why, it all boils down to the Benjamins. Brewer was looking at a huge downswing in AZ tourism, losing the Super Bowl and multiple conventions, and her own business community was ready to hammer her head into the ground. THAT is why she vetoed the bill, again, like last time, the bottom line was the reason.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    Reading through the comments here, one point that I think most of us have missed: they’ll be back. This isn’t a one-shot — this is already the second try for Arizona, and don’t think it’s the last.

    This is the basic extremist strategy — keep chipping away. That’s what they’ve been doing with reproductive rights and now voting rights, and you can count on them doing it with gay civil rights.

    Even if the Supreme Court grows a pair and puts a limit on “religious freedom” — the same way that there are limits on all of our other rights and freedoms — that won’t stop them. That’s the lesson of Roe v. Wade, and it’s one we’d better learn.

  • nkd

    Don’t underestimate Ohio! They will let things cool down, do a little rewrite and put the bill up again. The State House is governed by rightwing Tea Baggers who intend to make OH a State in their own image. Just yesterday they gutted voting rights. Ken Blackwell was Sec of State. Jon Husted is the Secretary of State now and in 2012 he tried to change voting rights DURING the ’12 campaign. Sadly for the GOTP (but fortunately for Dems) he was too late. But he has had two years to make those changes before the ’14 midterms.

  • JayRandal

    Religious extremists have lost a battle in Arizona but are regrouping for counterattacks. Georgia’s
    discrimination bill is still moving forward for enactment. As a Gay male in Georgia this worries me.

    Attacks on Gays in Russia are worse but upon passage of discrimination here in GA or elsewhere
    thugs could start doing same things in US. Uganda arrests Gays imprisoning them now. In Gambia
    recently President Yahya Jamaeh said: “As far as I am concerned, LGBT can only stand for Leprosy,
    Gonorrhorea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis – all of which are detrimental to human existence.” He calls
    for Gays to be exterminated like mosquitoes.

  • Anonymous

    But again we must remember that we’re sheep being herded. Any discussion is irrelevant since the lawmakers are only manipulating us. Now that questions over the economy are growing, we got thrown a morsel to fight over. Politicians would rather make us feel unimportant, like we need to fight for our rights, in order to deflect their problems back onto us. They’re stalling and haven’t done any real work in years despite collecting vacations and free food.

  • Anonymous

    Of course it didn’t pass, but I can imagine this being used in a medical context. I’m sure there are Americans who agree with the Russian anti-gay beliefs we criticized. Namely, that gay people all have AIDS and shouldn’t use hospital needles. Or that being gay is some kind of contagious disease that other patients don’t want to be around. Honestly, the mind boggles at what some people must believe in these fact-free zones. And where there are no facts, there are no clear laws.

  • Anonymous

    He does the “right” thing, if you mean right wing.

  • Anonymous

    Still don’t even understand why religious people get exemptions from following laws.

  • Anonymous

    They are doing what they did last election – outright lying and saying these bills and politicians are popular. Remember Rove’s face during the vote count? He was thinking “all that money gone to waste!” He was perched in the same position during the 2000 election.

  • Anonymous

    Stupid laws – what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately for them, intelligent people step in and take away their toys.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    No, it’s the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), through their affiliate the American Religious Freedom Program, as well as a network of radical-social conservative and anti-gay groups, many with the word ‘family’ in their titles.

    Mother Jones has the run-down.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/gay-discrimination-bills-religious-freedom-jim-crow

  • 2karmanot

    Indeed. This is a governor that cut off funds for transplant patients, letting them die while building a lavish stadium with the savings. This is a governor, who privatized prisons and then passed a racially biased law to fill them with prisoners.

  • nicho

    But it would also allow Muslim cab drivers to refuse to carry passengers who had been drinking or who were carrying alcohol. It would also allow them to refuse to carry women who weren’t sufficiently covered. Jewish employees in supermarkets could refuse to deal with pork or ring up pork products on a register. Catholic city clerks could refuse to issue marriage licenses to persons who had been divorced. This bill was a can of worms larger than the Grand Canyon.

  • 2karmanot

    Obozo will never do the ‘right thing’ until it’s the only option left.

  • 2karmanot

    ALEC

  • FuzzyRabbit

    So what now? Voters have short memories. Will liberal candidates in the 2014 elections call out the wingnuts who supported and voted for this insane, abhorrent legislation every chance they get?

    Or will liberal candidates forget this ever happened?

  • judybrowni

    Woopsie!

    So much for your old bigotry Repubs, guess you’ll have to find new targets.

    But you’re running out of voters to be repulsed by your policies!

  • Charlie

    I thought that the worst part of the bill wasnt the fact that businesses could discriminate, but rather, if you called 911, theoretically they could ask if you are gay, and then refuse to help you on religious grounds. it allows police, firefighters, ems, teachers, county clerks, etc. to refuse to serve people on religious grounds, even while acting in a public capacity. Thank god Governor Sunstroke vetoed it

  • HolyMoly

    Don’t forget also:

    (5) The phone calls she received from the RNC: “Congressional midterms are around the corner, and this bill is generating way too much attention. Do you want to sink the whole party on the national level? Try passing the bill early in an odd-numbered year — voters tend to have very short political memories and that will allow enough time for them to forget.”

    It doesn’t seem too much like a coincidence that party leaders are publicly speaking out against this bill (McCain, Romney, et al.). It also doesn’t seem like a coincidence that state after state has decided to either revise their version of the bill or drop it entirely — all virtually at the same time. Someone up top has been giving them the call. Don’t forget Brewer was just in Washington for a governor’s conference. I think she may have been approached and given her marching orders at that time.

  • TonyT

    I agree with other commenters. We must find out who is shopping this bill everywhere and call them out.

  • pricknick

    It should have never gotten to her desk.
    Time to chase down the originators of this so-call law.
    Pitchfork time.

  • Bose

    The Kansas and AZ bills woke up a sizable body of competent business people who had been largely agnostic on LGBT issues. They never intended to discriminate, and there didn’t seem to be much harm in letting a few small owner/operators in the wedding industry sink their own ships by becoming antagonists to gay couples.

    But then they saw the breadth of what was being demanded in the name of “liberty” and realized that these bills would be inserting themselves directly into how they run their business and manage their staff. It might only be a few employees would have worn such laws like a shield, but HR managers knew the kinds of drama-prone staffers that would be drawn in that direction. They didn’t have to be overtly affirming of LGBT issues to see that this stuff would hit their efficiency, service, scheduling, and of course the bottom line.

    Their answer, to no one’s surprise, was Hell, no, the state is not going to f**k with me that way.

    Somewhat separately, it’s critical that no one be given a pass for writing extreme bills with supposedly unintended consequences. The key point is that the extreme is exactly what the anti-gay right has wanted and expected for a long time. Nothing inadvertent here, and if they’re not held accountable, the extreme versions will rear their ugly heads in future, supposedly more measured versions.

  • Bill_Perdue

  • FLL

    This Arizona bill was driven entirely by Republicans, of course. I think that Democrats and Independents can succeed politically by pushing for the interests economic interests of the 99% rather than the 1%. But what mysterious force has finally made anti-gay legislation anathema for Republicans? Ironically, Republicans now find it impossible to support anti-gay legislation because of its embrace of corporate and business interests. Calvin Coolidge stated the only loyalty of the Republican Party in the 1920s very succinctly: “The business of America is business.” Corporate America has turned against the fundamentalist Christians and their homophobic hatred, and there is no turning back. Corporate America’s Republican sponsors have no choice but to follow suit.

    What do they say during divorce proceedings? It’s all over but the shouting. The fundie Xtians have lost. No wonder Ukrainians are turning West and Putin is sweating bullets. No wonder neo-Nazis guys in France throw up their hands in exasperation and do homoerotic photo shoots with each other. Soon all that will be left is One Million Moms (a few hundred, rounded up to the nearest million) and the Russian Orthodox patriarch furtively watching gay porn. 1600 years of Christian. What a tragicomic end.

  • 4th Turning

    Actually, I feel like you can be a lot thankful. Complacency got these dunces elected
    in the first place. Activist types know it’s been crazy watching this christian shiria law
    theocracy and libertarian self-worship dismantle a pretty good country while folks
    who know better seem lost in some kind of oblivion fog.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah, ultimately, I suspect money concerns overrode all else.

  • Thom Allen

    One business in Arizona, in response to the bill, placed a sigh in their window. It said: “This establishment has the right to refuse service to members of the Arizona Legislature.” That may have helped get the point across that many people were displeased with the bill.

  • pappyvet

    When “religious freedom” is used to deny the basic freedom of the people , it is no longer a question of freedom but of religious totalitarianism. They have the right to worship parking meters should they decide to. But no religion had the right to become a rule of law.

  • Thom Allen

    In Ohio, it looks like this DINO, Patmon, needs to get voted out of office ASAP.

  • Thom Allen

    And both immediate, and long term, loss of large amounts of revenue. Canceled conferences, vacations, tours from backlash and fear of discrimination. Plus with the NFL (decidedly racist) making noises about moving the Superbowl, I think Brewer got a reality check via a swift kick in her purse.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    In a roundabout way, I’m a little thankful for these bills.

    The high profile and massive backlash against them demonstrates just how unwelcome anti-gay discrimination has become, and won’t many of these Republicans be a little more vulnerable in the mid terms by association?

  • cole3244

    sb1062 actually gave businesses the right to discriminate against anyone for religious reasons it didn’t target the lbgt community.
    i believe there is still a law on the books in ariz that allows businesses to fire someone for being gay according to dan savage.

    all the time fighting the haters is costly and a waste of energy that could be directed in a positive direction, why move america forward when the past is so more comfortable for the conservatives.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I disagree with your friend. I think four things were pointed out to Governor Brewer:

    1. The bill would have permitted discrimination against anybody, including evangelical, white, heterosexual Christians, on the basis of religion.

    2. Quite possibly more importantly, it would have resulted in horrible PR and massive legal liabilities for corporations, including for business that want to have anti-discrimination policies, but would’ve been overridden at the employee level by this bill.

    3. It would’ve made Arizona look like even more of a bigoted backwater than it already is, and thus also cost money for businesses.

    And finally:
    4. The bill was manifestly unconstitutional on every level and would’ve cost the state millions to defend, all the while making Arizona look even worse.

  • woodroad34

    Now on to Missouri so that the adults can make dirty ol’ grandpa behave.

  • woodroad34

    The adults told the naughty little girl to behave.

  • kingstonbears

    Amen. Now let’s go out for ‘tini’s to celebrate. 2 olives please.

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