Last week, Arizona passed a disturbingly dense State Senate bill called SB1062. This is a bill that it’s authors have dubbed the “religious freedom” bill, but which is really a free pass for Arizonans to legally discriminate against anyone they feel like on ostensibly religious grounds.
The bill’s authors pedantically claim that the bill is exclusively intended to protect the right for Arizonan’s to exercise their religion, a right that Arizona state senator, SB1062 bill supporter, and possible talking tree stump Capt. Al Melvin could not convince Anderson Cooper last night was even in danger in the state of Arizona ( video after the jump).
This is the full video of Capt. Melvin’s hilarious, gut-wrenchingly awkward interview with Anderson Cooper, which is totally worth the watch if you are masochistic but really want to see how much (re: little) thought has gone into the making of SB1062.
Part 2 of the interview is available here, and includes reaction from NYU law prof Kenji Yoshino. Some highlights:
- Al Melvin is against discrimination.
- Al Melvin doesn’t think this bill would protect discrimination.
- Al Melvin will not comment on whether firing a person based on sexual orientation constitutes discrimination.
- Al Melvin doesn’t believe anyone in Arizona discriminates against anyone (newsflash: SB 1070).
Not surprisingly, virtually the rest of the country has focused the spotlight on Arizona and the inanity of their “Right to Discriminate” bill, which in practice would protect the right for any business owner to use loosely defined religious grounds to discriminate against anyone — from gays, to Muslims, to other non-Christians, to unwed mothers, to divorcees, to women seeking the morning-after pill, to any group or identity that any religious text or practice has ever condemned. More damningly, the bill protects the right of Arizonans to practice their religion, but also protects the more dubious “right” of Arizonans to never have their religious beliefs challenged by exposure to contradictory evidence, like being forced to observe the humanity of gay Americans.
SB1062, and its sister bill HB 2153, have passed the Arizona Senate and House, and are currently on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s desk, where she must make the decision to either sign or veto the bill. Thankfully, a growing deluge of Americans have been applying pressure on Arizona and Governor Brewer asking her to veto the bill. Prominent LGBT activists, including renowned actor George Takei, who owns property in Arizona, have vowed to boycott the state. 66,000 Change.org users have signed a petition calling for a veto. Business owners in Arizona are speaking out against SB1062, worried about its impact on state tourism. Three of the GOP state senators who voted in favour of the bill — Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott), Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa), and senate majority whip Sen. Adam Driggs (R-Phoenix) — have had a change of heart, and are now urging the governor to veto.
And, last night, my esteemed friend Mike Bryan, who runs Arizona’s foremost politics blog (Blog for Arizona, @BlogforArizona), and who is an oracle of Arizona politics, predicted that Governor Brewer would veto the bill. In the full-text of his post, Mike wrote:
SB1062 is dead
Stick a fork in Arizona’s ill-conceived and mean-spirited anti-gay legislation, which is making a stink throughout the national media. Arizona’s de facto Governor has pronounced it dead: Chuck Coughlin has publicly announced his advice to de jure Governor Brewer to veto the bill. The rest is merely sound and fury, signifying nothing.
It turns out that Governor Brewer’s chief advisor, Chuck Coughlin, has joined the chorus calling for Governor Brewer to veto. And since Arizona insiders in-the-know know the influence Coughlin has on virtually all of Brewer’s decisions, Coughlin’s statement is as good as a prediction that the bill is dead.
So take heart, Arizonans. Arizona may be a politically back-water place where racial profiling is considered good state law, where the state coffers are bankrupt but taxes still won’t be raised, where Minutemen are considered state heroes instead of lawless vigilantes, and where a talking slab of granite like Capt Al. Melvin can legitimately consider a gubernatorial run, but it looks like even Arizona’s not stupid enough to sign into law a bill so flagrantly unconstitutional it would never make it past its first federal court challenge.
Act Now! Keep the pressure up. Here’s another link to that Change.org petition asking Governor Brewer to veto SB1062!