The great state of Arizona is at it again! For the last week or so it’s found itself smack dab in the middle of the shit and under the scrutiny of the news media and gay rights groups and supporters everywhere. With the passage by state legislators of the controversial SB 1062, a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gay people because of religious beliefs. All eyes turned to Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer awaiting her decision on whether she would sign the bill into law. The only clue she gave reporters was that she would “listen to both sides” and “as always do the right thing for Arizona.” She said she would announce her decision by the weekend. Last night the waiting game ended when Brewer announced that she had vetoed the bill.
You’d think her decision would be a no brainer. Besides gay rights supporters many Arizona Republicans including Sen. John McCain and several business giants like Apple, Delta and American Airlines had urged the governor to veto the unpopular bill. Opponents believe passage of the bill would have been a giant step backwards allowing what amounts to legalized discrimination, giving business owners the opportunity to exercise their prejudices behind the cloak of religious belief, while proponents claim the bill represents freedom. But then we’re talking about a governor who’s no stranger to controversy, no stranger at all.
During her time in office she’s been at the center of many a controversy including another piece of gay rights legislation that would have ended domestic partner benefits in her state. Of course that one was overturned by the Supreme Court. And let’s not forget the hugely unpopular immigration bill she signed into law four years ago that requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times or risk arrest and deportation, and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally. It is one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. With her track record I’m a little surprised she didn’t sign the bill just to stir the pot and keep Arizona at the center of the spotlight.
Can you imagine what would have happened if she had signed the bill into law. If businesses, particularly small independently owned establishments were allowed to live and work by their so called religious beliefs, withholding services from potential customers because of their chosen lifestyle would only be the tip of the iceberg. It used to be that discrimination was about race and skin color. Play the religious belief card and the door swings wide open. How long do you think it would be before other groups were targeted? There are many other lifestyles that can be viewed as objectionable through the veil of religious belief. No this This bill has nothing to do with living out one’s faith.
I firmly believe in religious liberty and I also believe a proprietor has the right to do business with whomever they choose and deny service to anyone provided there is a legitimate reason that is not based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender and sex or sexual orientation, political beliefs or physical attributes. I know, I know, that doesn’t leave many reasons for denying service, but there are legal reasons that businesses can usually deny service in the following situations:
- When a customer is not properly dressed
- When a customer has been, or is being, disruptive (appearance can be considered disruptive)
- When a customer harasses your employees or other customers
- When there are safety concerns
- When you know someone can’t, or won’t, pay
- When a customer is intoxicated or high
- When you need to protect another customer’s privacy
It all comes down to common sense people. Businesses can and should use their right to refuse service when necessary but should do so properly. In so doing they still retain control of who they do business with. Besides businesses are in business for one thing and one thing only, to make a profit. Believe me everybody’s money is green regardless of their lifestyle.
And so the Grand Canyon State avoids avoids potential disaster. Believe me passage of the law would have really hurt the state as well as businesses in the pocketbook. Several groups who have conventions sand other business scheduled in Arizona were already looking for alternative states to move to. Even the almighty NFL who is playing this years Super Bowl in Arizona let it be known that they were looking for an alternate location. Don’t know if the NFL’s announcement had anything to do with Governor Brewer’s veto but I think in this case she made the right call and kept her word. She did “the right thing for Arizona…