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 SB1062 controversy has NFL rethinking Super Bowl option
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9 months ago

SB1062 controversy has NFL rethinking Super Bowl option

The Arizona Cardinals and the Super Bowl 49 host committee have voiced their opposition of a proposed law that could lead the NFL to move the super bowl out of Arizona.

The Cardinals and the Super Bowl host committee released a statement Monday opposing Senate Bill 1062.

The so-called "religious freedom bill" recently passed by republicans in the state legislature would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians, based on the business owner's religious beliefs.

The statement says, "What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate."

A statement released by the NFL says, "Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard."

Brewer says she'll announce her decision on the bill Wednesday night.

9 months ago

Gov. Brewer to announce decision on SB1062 at 5:45 p.m.

From the Governor Brewer's Office:

Governor Brewer to Make Statement on SB 1062

When: 5:45 p.m. MT, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NOTE: Space will be limited. Only credential media is permitted - all media must be in place by 5:35 p.m.

Where: Executive Tower -- 8th Floor
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix

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9 months ago

Hispanic Bar Association pulls convention from Phoenix over SB1032

WASHINGTON, DC - The Hispanic National Bar Association announced today that it has pulled its 40th Annual Convention previously scheduled for Phoenix, Arizona in September 2015.

On Monday, February 24th, the HNBA denounced the Arizona legislature's passage of SB 1062. The HNBA also called for Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation and still hopes that she will do so. As set forth in its February 24th press release, SB 1062 discriminates against members of Arizona's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The proposed legislation also impacts other citizens that are either traveling through Arizona or that are doing business or have business interests in the state. Accordingly, the HNBA's Board of Governors voted unanimously to immediately pull the Annual Convention.

"The HNBA views this as a civil rights issue. As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance, and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice," stated HNBA National President Miguel Alexander Pozo. As the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said more than 50 years ago, writing from a Birmingham, AL jail cell, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

As lawyers, we have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution as well as the laws of our respective states. "In our view, SB 1062 violates the Equal Protection and the Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and offends the anti-discrimination protections found in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," said Mr. Pozo.

While the HNBA will remain steadfast, and stand in solidarity with our Affiliate Los Abogados and our HNBA members in Arizona, by taking this action we are sending a clear message to Arizona lawmakers. "Laws that return us to a darker time in the nation's history simply cannot be tolerated. SB 1062 and SB 1070 are two such laws," said Mr. Pozo.

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9 months ago

Gov. Brewer faces pressure to veto SB1062

To the devout Christians who gathered in a Phoenix church Tuesday night, the bill that's triggered daily protests has nothing to do with gender-based discrimination...and only to do with freedom of religious expression.

But what if the reason is that the customers are gay..like the same-sex couples refused wedding flowers in Washington state, and a wedding cake in Oregon?

But a lot of business owners have been doing the math...like hotel owner Ben Bethel who emphasizes he serves everyone...but who's already about possible cancellations.

Estimates are it's not thousands but untold millions at stake if the bill becomes law and triggers corporate and tourist dollar flight...especially from LGBT tourists.

That's why companies like Apple and American Airlines are urging a veto...as are notable Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney...and even state senators including Steve Pierce who supported and voted for the bill, and have now changed their minds.

If Governor Brewer does veto the bill, ultra conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh say they know who's to blame.

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9 months ago

Men's group holds fundraiser against SB 1062

TUCSON - Senate Bill 1062 would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to anyone, including gays. In Tucson a gay men's group held a fundraiser to aid in fighting the bill.

It took place at Junxion bar in downtown. The group called G3 holds a monthly happy hour. This time they were joined by dozens of Tucsonans against the bill.

Opponents of 1062 filled the bar, outside a march calling for the senate bill to be vetoed.

Pete King says if it's passed everyone in Arizona could be impacted including the gay community.

"I think Arizona has egg on its face," says King, "other people that could be effected by this such as single mothers who are unmarried, or people who are divorced, people who have had affairs."

Wendell Hicks says, "The law does not specify that this is to discriminate against LGBT people, but if you listen to the lawmakers it's clear, that's their intent."

Some in favor of the bill, say the gay community has "hijacked" it's true meaning and misrepresents what 1062 aims to do. On KVOA.com viewers are sharing their thoughts via Facebook.

Darrel Murray says, "businesses should have the final say to reserve the right to refuse service to anyone they choose not to serve and especially if it involves one's religious beliefs. It is the owner's business, not the gays, Muslims or other people they would choose not to serve."

Steve Adcock says, "private businesses should have the ability to operate their business however they see fit. Let the free market decide whether those decisions have economic consequences or not. More government regulation is the last thing our town needs."

The manager of Junxion bar is donating 100 percent of Tuesday's profits for printing and promotional needs, to fight the bill.

Andrew Sommers says, "Any dollar that comes in over the bar, all the bar tender tips, time of my door staff, and security is all donated to help get a veto of this ridiculous bill."

The event raised more than $2,000 Tuesday night.

Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sit down with both sides this week and either sign or veto the bill by the weekend.

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9 months ago

Businesses urge Gov. Brewer to veto SB 1062

TUCSON - The business community in Southern Arizona has mostly taken a stance against the controversial religious freedom bill passed by the Arizona State Legislature last week.

Senate Bill 1062 essentially grants business owners and individuals the right to refuse service to gays and lesbians, among other groups, if it conflicts with their individual religious beliefs.

On Congress Avenue in downtown Tucson, hundreds of signs pepper the storefronts with phrases stating "We Do Not Discriminate - VETO."

May Lou Thompson has worked as a Realtor in Southern Arizona for 37 years.

"It makes us look, again, like we don't care about human equality," Thompson said.

She remembers the fallout of the state's controversial enforcement law, which triggered boycotts and event cancellations across the state.

Thompson worries that this bill, if signed by Governor Brewer, will give Arizona a black eye and make it harder to convince people to move here.

"I know businesses will decide not to come here," she said, adding that a law like this could undercut the economic progress Tucson has made in recent years.

Thompson fears the worst has already occurred.

"It's exciting to see what's happening with new businesses coming into town right now -- and I imagine there will be some pulling out if this passes, and there may be some pulling out anyway," she said.

That's a fear that resonates state-wide.

"As national groups look to Arizona to host major events ... I think they will take a moment and question whether they want to bring big groups of fans to our community and then have some people turned away from restaurants and stores and businesses," said Rep. Demion Clinco, the only openly-gay member of the state house of representatives.

While Gov. Brewer has been in Washington over the past several days, the Tucson Metro Chamber sent a letter to her this morning on behalf of 1,450 businesses in Tucson urging her to veto the bill.

"There seems to be little doubt that this measure is regarded as regressive and serves only to define the state of Arizona in a negative light," the letter reads.

Gov. Brewer has until Friday to take action on the bill.

9 months ago

Gov. Brewer has until Friday to make a decision on SB1062

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Senate has formally sent to Gov. Jan Brewer an already approved bill allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays.

Monday's action starts a five-day clock for the Republican governor to act on a proposed law she herself calls controversial.

The legislation has triggered a national backlash from supporters of gay rights.

Several Republicans running for governor have said they'd like to see the bill vetoed. But conservative groups supporting the legislation are pushing back and hoping Brewer signs it in to law.

The GOP state senators who voted for Senate Bill 1062 are urging a veto. The conservative governor also is feeling pressure from the business community to veto the bill.

Brewer returns from Washington on Tuesday.

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9 months ago

Rep. Grijalva on SB1062: Arizonans didn't ask for this

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement today on Arizona's unpopular SB 1062 bill, which would legalize discrimination by anyone claiming a religious basis for their actions:

"The far right of the conservative movement has been using our state as a petri dish for their anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-education, anti-gun safety, anti-gay agenda for years now, and it needs to stop. Arizonans did not ask for this bill or any other form of state-sanctioned discrimination. It doesn't help our economy, create any jobs, attract any talented people to our state or provide a more welcome environment for visitors. Our unemployment rate is too high. Our schools need more funding. What this has to do with the real-world concerns of average Arizonans is beyond me."

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9 months ago

Tucson opposition builds against SB1062

Opposition to Senate Bill 1062 continues to build in Arizona.

Both Mayor Rothschild and Tucson's Chamber of Commerce have come out against the proposed law.

In downtown Tucson, business have come togther to protest its passing. Over 300 signs have been posted in windows at shops and bars. "We don't discriminate. Veto," they say.

Over the weekend, protests against the controversial bill were held in Phoenix and Tucson. Business owners objecting to the proposed law hung signs outside their windows and doors showing their support against the bill.

Senator John McCain tweeted Monday that he hopes Gov. Brewer vetoes it:

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9 months ago

Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce urges Governor to veto SB1062

TUCSON - The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce is urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB1062, which would add protections from discrimination lawsuits to individuals and businesses who refuse service to customers in the name of religious freedom.

The Chamber sent a letter to Gov. Brewer Monday.

"We are writing to you on behalf of the 1,450 member businesses of the Tucson Metro Chamber and their 110,000 employees to ask that you veto SB1062. While the authors of SB1062 may have had good intentions, it is our opinion that, if enacted, SB1062 will have immediate and long term negative economic impact," the letter stated.

"Since the announcement of the passage of SB1062, the Tucson Metro Chamber has received correspondence from consumers and businesses both in our area and outside of Arizona expressing concern about SB1062," the letter added. "There seems to be little doubt that this measure is regarded as regressive and serves only to define the state of Arizona in a negative light."

In the letter, the Chamber also said that the effect of SB1062 is a "step backward at a time all of us are trying to grow our local economy, put our citizens back to work and elevate Arizona on the world stage of commerce and tourism."

Republicans say the law is needed to protect people who have legitimate religious objections to gay marriage.

Democrats argue it will be a license to discriminate.

Governor Brewer has until Friday to sign it.

9 months ago

How your state Reps and Senators voted on SB1062

Here's how Southern Arizona's lawmakers voted on SB1062, the bill that would allow discrimination against gays in the name of religious freedom.

District 2

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, no

Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, no

Rep. Demion Clinco, no

District 3

Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, no

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, no

Rep. Macario Saldate, no

District 4

Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, no

Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, no

Rep. Lisa Otondo, no

District 8

Sen. Barbara McGuire, no

Rep. Frank Pratt, yes

Rep. T.J. Shope, yes

District 9

Sen. Steve Farley, no

Rep. Ethan Orr, no

Rep. Victoria Steele, no

District 10

Sen. Dave Bradley, no

Rep. Stefanie Mach, no

Rep. Bruce Wheeler, no

District 11

Sen. Al Melvin, yes

Rep. Adam Kwasman, yes

Rep. Steve Smith, yes

District 14

Sen. Gail Griffin, yes

Rep. David Gowan, yes

Rep. David Stevens, yes

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9 months ago

Arizona Senate to send Brewer gay rights bill

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Senate is expected to send a bill allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays to Gov. Jan Brewer as early as Monday.

That action will start a five-day clock for the Republican governor to act on a proposed law she herself calls controversial.

The legislation passed last week has triggered a national backlash from supporters of gay rights.

Several Republicans running to replace Brewer have said they would like to see Senate Bill 1062 vetoed. But conservative groups backing the legislation are pushing back and hoping Brewer signs it in to law.

The conservative governor is also feeling pressure from the business community to veto the bill.

Brewer is set to return from governors' association meetings in Washington on Tuesday.

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9 months ago

Critics worry religious rights bill will hurt business and tourism

TUCSON - Some business and tourism groups are asking Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill they believe might lead to discrimination.

Supporters SB 1062 call it a religious freedom bill. Critics are calling it the "right to discriminate" bill.

Rep. Steve Smith's district covers much of northern Pima County including Marana and Oro Valley. He voted in favor of the bill but did not expect so much negative feedback.

"I didn't think people would try to stretch it out to something that it isn't," Smith said. "A lot of people are trying to make this bill something that it does not try to do."

The bill does not directly mention sexuality, race or gender.

"You can't make me do something just because you think you can," Smith said. "No. As a business owner, I have the right to do whatever I want, last time I checked."

Visit Tucson, an organization that encourages Southern Arizona tourism, received phone calls and messages from around the country after the bill passed, according to its Executive Vice President, Felipe Garcia.

"They have no idea what's going on," Garcia said. "And the perception they're going to be forming, or the criteria, what they're going to decide about our community is, 'Well, you guys are going to be discriminating.'"

The Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce wrote an open letter to Gov. Brewer asking her to veto the bill. The President and CEO of the group, Lea Marquez-Peterson, said she is worried about history repeating itself.

"This created quite an uproar, I would say, in the business community," she said. "We are concerned about the negative public effects of SB 1062 much like SB 1070 had on our state."

Brewer said she will make a decision about a veto by next Friday.

9 months ago

What does the religious freedom bill actually say?

TUCSON - Arizona is again making headlines with a controversial piece of legislation. SB 1062 passed the House Thursday night. It adds protections from discrimination lawsuits to individuals and businesses.

Republicans say the law is needed to protect people who have legitimate religious objections to gay marriage. Democrats argue it will be a license to discriminate.

Governor Brewer has not yet said if she will sign it.

Here's the fact sheet about the bill prepared for the Senate.

Here's the full text of the bill.

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9 months ago

Southern Arizona reacts to controversial religious freedom bill

TUCSON - A controversial bill passed by the state legislature this week has stirred controversy locally and across the state.

Some fear Senate Bill 1062 will give Arizona another black eye with threats of economic backlash similar to what the state experienced after passing it's immigration enforcement law.

Lawmakers gave their final approval Thursday night to the bill which would protect businesses, and individuals, from discrimination lawsuits if they refuse service to someone based on religious beliefs.

Opponents of the bill say the bill targets the gay and lesbian community, as well as others.

"This bill is really targeting the LGBT community," said Rep. Demion Clinco (D- District 2) who is the only openly gay member of the Arizona House of Representatives.

"They feel that they can begin to mistreat this minority group, we as an entire society suffer," Clinco told News 4 Tucson.

Though supporters of the bill insist it's focus is about protecting religion, not discrimination.

"I don't see this as an attack in so far as those who believe you're protecting your right to practice your religion and not engage in a contract," said Rep. Adam Kwasman (R - District 11).

That's something that doesn't sit well with patrons at Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria.

"I have friends that their reactions are... This is why I'm moving out of the state of Arizona," said Stephanie Smith.

"How sad that in today's time that we just can't accept people for who they are," said Dottie Poczulp.

Shop owner Rocco DiGrazzia even posted a sign expressing his discontent with the newly passed bill.

"Infringing on some person's civil liberties is not going to help the cause of anyone .. And more freedom for everybody is the way to go," DiGrazzia said.

Still, Clinco worries about fallout similar to Arizona's controversial immigration law known as S.B. 1070.

"There's just a variety of things that I think it can be devastating to... more broadly the message that we're sending out about the type of state Arizona is," Clinco said.

Governor Brewer, who was in Washington today and hasn't seen the bill yet, is fully aware of the controversy. She pledged to make a decision within a week.

"We know that it's failed in states across the country ....It's very controversial so I've got to get my hands around it," Brewer said.

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9 months ago

Rep. Barber urges Gov. to veto SB 1062

TUCSON - U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today issued a statement on SB 1062, which has been passed by the Arizona Legislature and sent to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The bill shields businesses from being sued if they deny service based on religious beliefs. It is seen as a way for business owners to legally discriminate against gay people or others by claiming that the discrimination is religious-based.

Barber's statement:

I strongly oppose SB 1062 - a deeply offensive piece of legislation that would give legal protection to business owners who discriminate against certain groups of individuals. This bill clearly is aimed at LGBT Arizonans.

Those who supported this bill claim it is a way to protect the constitutional right of freedom of religion. No religion legitimizes discrimination.

SB 1062 takes us back to the days when businesses were allowed to have "white only" lunch counters, waiting rooms and drinking fountains. Arizona must not take such a giant step backward.

This bill will divide Arizonan. It will hurt our community and our economy.

I call upon Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062 and send a message that Arizona is not a state that legalizes hate and discrimination. This bill is wrong.

In addition to Barber's opposition to the bill, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council is among the business organizations opposing this bill, saying that companies considering Arizona locations already have said they will look elsewhere if SB 1062 becomes law.

9 months ago

Will Gov. Brewer sign Religious freedom bill?

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Legislature gave final approval Thursday evening to legislation that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal "state-sanctioned discrimination" and an embarrassment.

The 33-27 vote by the House sends the legislation to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and puts Arizona back at the forefront of a polarizing piece of legislation four years after the state enacted an immigration crackdown that caused a national furor.

Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona's plan is the only one that has passed. The efforts are stalled in Idaho, Ohio and Kansas.

Republicans stressed that the bill is about protecting religious freedom and not discrimination. They frequently cited the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple and said Arizona needs a law to protect people in the state from heavy-handed actions by courts and law enforcement.

The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination. It also allows the business or person to seek an injunction once they show their actions are based on a sincere religious belief and the claim places a burden on the exercise of their religion.

The legislation prompted a heated debate on the floor of the House, touching on issues such as the religious freedom, constitutional protections and civil rights.

Opponents raised scenarios in which gay people in Arizona could be denied service at a restaurant or refused medical treatment if a business owner thought homosexuality was not in accordance with his religion. One lawmaker held up a sign that read "NO GAYS ALLOWED" in arguing what could happen if the law took effect, drawing a rebuke for violating rules that bar signs on the House floor.

Democrats also said there were a host of other scenarios not involving sexual orientations where someone could raise their religious beliefs as a discrimination defense.

The bill is backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law.

"We see a growing hostility toward religion," said Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the group.

All but three Republicans in the House backed Senate Bill 1062 Thursday evening. All three House Republicans who broke ranks said they had problems with the proposal, though none elaborated at length.

"I disagree with the bill," said Rep. Ethan Orr. "I think it's a bad bill."

The two others were Reps. Heather Carter and Kate Brophy McGee.

The Senate passed the bill a day earlier on a straight party-line vote of 17-13.

Brewer doesn't comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it's not clear whether she would support or reject this plan.

The legislation comes also as an increasing number of conservative states grapple with ways to counter the increasing legality of gay marriage.

Arizona's voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008. It's one of 29 states with such prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal judges have recently struck down bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, but those decisions are under appeal.

Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough called his proposal a First Amendment issue during the Senate debate.

"This bill is not about allowing discrimination," Yarbrough said. "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

Democrats say it is an outright attack on the rights of gays and lesbians that will reverberate through the economy because businesses and tourists will avoid Arizona like they did after the passage SB1070 in 2010 that cracked down on immigration.

"This bill is about going after the rights of the LGBT community in Arizona," said Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic minority leader. "This is going to be horrible for our economy."

But Republicans said it was simply an added protection for the faithful in the state who disapprove of gay marriage and want to be able to reject participating.

"Please, I will accept you because you are a child of God, I love you because you are a child of God," said GOP Rep. Steve Montenegro. "But please don't ask me to go against my religious beliefs."

The bill is similar to a proposal last year brought by Yarbrough but vetoed by Brewer. That legislation also would have allowed people or religious groups to sue if they believed they might be subject to a government regulation that infringed on their religious rights. Yarbrough stripped a provision from the bill in hopes Brewer will embrace the new version.

Civil liberties and secular groups countered that Yarbrough and the Center for Arizona Policy had sought to minimize concerns that last year's bill had far-reaching and hidden implications. During the Senate debate Wednesday, Democrats said the bill could allow people to break nearly any law and cite religious freedom as a defense.

Yarbrough called those worries "unrealistic and unsupported hypotheticals" and said criminal laws will continue to be prosecuted by the courts.

Rep. Chad Campbell of Phoenix, the Democratic minority leader, said during debate that gays and lesbians across the country would get the message that they're not welcome in Arizona.

"We're telling them, 'We don't like you. We don't want you here. We're not going to protect you," he said.

But the House sponsor, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, said the bill had been blown out of proportion.

"We're making some tweaks here because of what's been going on in other states where people have been punished for their beliefs," Farnsworth said.

Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, also said the Democrats were making too much of the bill's effect.

"Sometimes people's rhetoric tends to inflame instead of explain," Biggs said. "And I would suggest if there is going to be a backlash because of 1062 ... it will because of the intemperate and inaccurate rhetoric."

9 months ago

Arizona Senate OKs bill that allows refusal of service to gays

The Arizona Senate has passed a Republican-backed bill that expands the rights of people to assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others.

Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the bill being pushed by social conservatives, saying it would allow discriminatory actions by businesses.

But GOP Sen. Steve Yarbrough of Chandler says his push was prompted by a New Mexico case where the state Supreme Court allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to take pictures of their wedding. He says he's protecting religious rights.

Democrats sponsored eight hostile amendments during Wednesday's debate that were rejected by Republicans who control the Senate.

A similar bill is making its way through the House.

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