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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Go West? The Arizona Issue ~ Part One

Last Friday, CNN revealed: "Arizona's Legislature has passed a controversial bill that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

"The bill, which the state House of Representatives passed by a 33-27 vote Thursday, now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and onetime small business owner who vetoed similar legislation last year but has expressed the right of business owners to deny service."

This legislation would certainly be challenged at the federal level but, meanwhile, it has raised quite a bit of ire, not only among Arizona's LGBT community but among the state's business community. Today, it was reported that a few supporters of this discriminatory hate bill are already back-peddling away from it and Senator John McCain Tweeted: “I hope Governor Brewer will veto [the bill]”.

Huffington Post reported on February 25 that Marriott Hotels and American Airlines sent letters to Arizona Brewer requesting she veto the pending legislation.

"George Takei fired a virtual photon torpedo Friday at Arizona in a scathing letter addressing legislative passage of an anti LGBT law allowing for discrimination in services," wrote Raw Story last week.

"This 'turn away the gay' bill enshrines discrimination into the law," Takei wrote on his blog. "Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us. … You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects ‘religious freedom,’ but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used ‘God’s Will’ as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero."

"Takei notes in his letter that his husband Brad Altman and he have strong ties to Arizona. Altman was born in Phoenix, and the couple vacation in Show Low," Raw Story notes. "Governor Jan Brewer’s signature stands between the bill and its enactment. Brewer has yet to comment on her intentions.

"If  [Governor Jan] Brewer signs the bill, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent,” Takei insisted.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen, investigative cub reporter, decided to ask Tracey and Merv Koehle, close friends who moved from Connecticut to the greater Phoenix area, only to move back again after a few years way out west, to share their thoughts on the controversy.

"I see the recent attempt at legislation just one in a line of others that passed in Arizona and that I find regressive," said Tracey. "Like carrying unconcealed guns into establishments such as bars. Hearing about this new proposed legislation confirmed my feelings that our moving back to Connecticut was the best option for us."

"I loved Arizona because it was such a beautiful state in terms of the natural landscape," she added, "but we found the governing sources are too conservative and too heavily influenced by the fundamentalist, right-wing 'religious' element."

[Continued in Part 2]

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