After vetoing a bill that would set civil rights back a decade or five, Governor Jan Brewer leapfrogged the rest of the country by allowing gays to eat in whichever restaurant they choose, no matter the religion of the food. SB 1062 was passed by Arizona lawmakers, which would have helped a business’ right to refuse to service gay and lesbian customers based on religious beliefs. The defeat of the bill has made Arizona the new, unofficial gay safe haven, a title recently held by Sochi.
The bill raised the conundrum of freedom versus discrimination, and it appears freedom took a huge beatdown. But the decision was not easy for Brewer, who was swayed by over 20,000 emails, letters, and phone calls. Brewer claimed that she held off on vetoing the bill because there was no way to measure whether the emails were gay or straight, but a source inside the cabinet says it was because she was enjoying the attention. It’s true; both the governor and Arizona rarely hold the nation’s spotlight on controversial matters like these.
Brewer met privately with people on both sides of the debate in order to make a fully informed judgment. Supporters of the bill did not like the national pro-gay agenda and were trying to protect their religious freedom. “The problem’s that they’re here, not queer,” said one supporter. Critics of the bill described it as anti-gay, unconstitutional, and divisive, which is just a liberal, fancy pants way of saying “wah-wah.”
An estimated 350 people, some of whom might have been gay, stood outside the Arizona Capitol prior to Brewer’s decision in a peaceful protest. Reports are unsure which of the protesters were gay, which raises another question: how does one identify a gay person? A recent study shows that in 2009, Arizona surpassed Michigan as the US’ leading manufacturer of Gaydar, so if anyone is equipped to make that decision, it is Arizona, the new gay safe haven.
One major factor in Brewer’s decision was the threat of powerful enemies of the bill boycotting Arizona if the bill became law. The state faced similar threats after the passage of an anti-illegal immigration law in 2010. Recently the NFL came out against the law, which jeopardized Arizona’s hosting of the 2015 Super Bowl.
Other states have similar bills that have been introduced or are being considered. Massachusetts is considering a bill that will allow pubs and sports bars to refuse service to Yankees fans. The authors of the bill state it is for their own good. Nevada is waiting for a bill to pass that would allow casinos to turn away anyone who looks poor. Meanwhile, South Dakota says come on in! Several other states, such as Mississippi and Georgia, are looking at bills similar to the one defeated in Arizona.
Brewer is a national hero and Arizona is the new gay safe haven, and right behind them are Mississippi and Georgia. But reports show that the right to control women’s bodies is still up for discussion, and discrimination against immigrants is encouraged.
Satire by David Tulis