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SB 1062 forcing Brewer to consider issues tied to faith, discrimination

Feb 22, 2014

Arizona Republic

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy or Cathi Harrod as I have been calling her If you ask me I think that SB 1062 is just another bill created by Cathi Harrod and her Center for Arizona Policy which has an agenda of using the law for force her brand of Christianity on the rest of us using the force of government.

While it would be unconstitutional for Cathi Harrod to get the legislator to make abortion illegal, SB 1062 side steps that by making it legal for medical workers to refuse to perform abortions based on their Christian faith.

And of course if Cathi Harrod can get a large number of Christian workers who share her views on abortion to get jobs in abortion clinics she could effectively make it impossible for women to get abortions in Arizona.

My view is if you think abortion is wrong, don't have one. But even if you think abortion is wrong, you certainly don't have the right to prevent other women from getting one.

SB 1062 forcing Brewer to consider issues tied to faith, discrimination

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez The Republic | Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:24 AM

Gov. Jan Brewer was the focus of intense lobbying Friday from groups on both sides of a controversial bill that has raised questions about faith, discrimination and Arizona’s tattered national image.

Brewer and her staff monitored Senate Bill 1062 as it made its way through the Legislature and won approval Thursday with overwhelming Republican support.

As usual, Brewer has been tight-lipped about how she will act — she rarely comments before bills reach her desk. But she told a cable news network she planned to closely review the “controversial piece of legislation” that, among other things, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit. Gay rights activists say the law would permit outright discrimination.

The Republican governor plans to meet with advisers in and out of her office, members of the business community, lawmakers and others as she weighs whether to sign the bill into law, her advisers said.

“They’ll go over every aspect of the bill — the pros and the cons, the risks — all of it,” said one insider familiar with the inner workings of the Governor’s Office and how Brewer approaches legislation. “In this instance, you have a bill that had a party-line vote. It puts her in a difficult spot.”

Brewer was in Washington, D.C., attending a conference of governors and wasn’t expected to return until Tuesday. But some factions set to work Friday attempting to influence her decision.

Brewer’s Twitter feed blew up, with people from the business community, gay and lesbian activists and others urging her to veto the bill.

Business leaders, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, warned SB 1062 could have “profound, negative” effects on the state’s recovering economy by alienating businesses looking to relocate here and hurting tourism even as the state readies to host next year’s Super Bowl.

Activists turned out by the hundreds at the state Capitol to demand Brewer veto the bill. Activists said the legislation would “permit discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.”

On the other side, social conservatives who characterized the legislation as a religious-freedom bill, mobilized their forces, urging her to sign the bill they say would ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to act against their religious convictions.

The bill was written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy — one of the most influential lobbies at the state legislature — and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

Brewer, who is religious and has said she prays about her decisions, typically falls in line with her party on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But she does not headline her agenda with such issues.

The bill is expected to reach her desk next week, as early as Monday. Few would speculate how she will come down.

“I don’t think anybody knows whether she will veto it or sign it into law,” said veteran pollster Bruce Merrill. “She is an enigma.” Precarious position

Brewer gained a national profile four years ago after signing the state’s tough immigration bill, SB 1070, which virtually assured her election and made her a darling of the conservative wing of the Republican Party even as it generated controversy.

This time, some say, Brewer is in a more precarious position politically.

Some Republicans who are still smarting from her coup last year to expand Medicaid, may use the issue to embarrass her. The bill could become a distraction from Brewer’s legislative agenda, which includes creation of a new child-safety welfare agency.

SB 1062 proposes to expand the state’s definition of the exercise of religion to include both the practice and observance of religion. It would also allow someone to assert a legal claim of free exercise of religion regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceedings. The legislation would expand those protected under the state’s free-exercise-of-religion law to “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization.”

In order to assert a free-exercise-of-religion defense, the individual, business or church must establish that its action is motivated by a religious belief, that the belief is sincerely held and that the belief is substantially burdened, according to the legislation.

Similar debates have taken place nationally this year, but Arizona is believed to be the first state to pass such a broad right to refuse service bill.

“Hopefully, from my perspective, she’ll see this will put Arizona in a national negative light, and it shows Arizona is really going in the opposite direction on important issues at a time when the country seems to be moving forward,” said Grant Woods, who frequently talks with Brewer about legislation and other matters, and expects to soon talk with the governor to urge her to not sign SB 1062.

In 2011, Brewer struck down a bill that would have barred the state from taking any adverse action against a person's professional license based on his or her religious expression. SB 1288, sponsored by Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Gilbert, passed the Legislature along party lines, with support from Republicans and opposition from Democrats.

In her veto letter, Brewer wrote the bill sought to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. She also said she was “very supportive of increasing the free exercise of religion in Arizona.”

SB 1062 is nearly identical to bills Brewer vetoed last year.

Those close to Brewer say she will act thoughtfully and decisively. During other high-profile decisions, insiders say Brewer was deliberate, reviewing reams of documents on legislation, ranging from staff summaries to stakeholder letters and correspondence from constituents.

No matter which way she decides, expect either a veto or a signature: Only once has she allowed a bill to become law without her signature, her office says. If she neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will become law without her signature.

“Whatever she does, it will be a reflection of her true value — what she truly believes,” said pollster Merrill, pointing out that she likely will not seek the gubernatorial office for another term.

Republican consultant Chris Baker disputed that Brewer is in a politically problematic position.

“She is a lame duck for all intents and purposes, and unlike (SB) 1070, which really was for her a political decision, she’s not under that type of pressure,” Baker said. “For the most part, she’s free to do what she thinks is in the state’s best interest.”

Denying discrimination

Republican Party officials did not respond to The Arizona Republic’s request for comment on how they will ask Brewer to act, if at all.

Republicans who support the bill pushed back against accusations it would promote discrimination, saying they are solely attempting to ensure people’s sincerely held religious rights are protected.

“Within religion, people are to love each other,” said Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that we don’t force somebody to go against what they think is very sacred to their faith.”

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills said SB 1062 opponents were mischaracterizing the intent of the bill to the national media, hurting the state’s image. He said “the fact that they are ... saying that it would allow somebody to deny waiter service or a hotel room to a gay is a lie. It is not true.”

Josh Kredit, legal counsel at Center for Arizona Policy, said he hopes Brewer will sign the bill, saying she “has long been a protector of religious freedom.” He rejected claims the legislation could hurt the state’s economy, saying it would be a benefit.

“If Arizona is to be known as a state that embraces religious freedom and protects it, I think it’s a great thing and an economic booster, to be honest,” Kredit said.

The three Republican House members who voted against the bill — Ethan Orr, Kate Brophy-McGee and Heather Carter — told The Republic the legislation is divisive, could lead to unintended consequences, and that it is unnecessary.

Carter, of Cave Creek, said she is “completely against discrimination in any form at any time,” and said there is no convincing evidence the bill is needed.

“We need to be focused on what brings us together as a state,” she said. “Not what divides us.”

Orr, of Tucson, worried about unintended consequences, saying, “If you’re going to exclude someone from commerce, you’re excluding them from society. That troubles me.”

And McGee, of Phoenix, said laws are already in place to protect religious freedoms and prevent discrimination.

“Arizona families need all the help we can give them,” she said. “This argument drives us apart when we most need to be working together.”

Republic reporters J.T. Reid and Isiah Kurz contributed to this article.


Arizona business groups overwhelmingly opposed to SB 1062

By Laurie Merrill and Russ Wiles The Republic | Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:57 PM

Economic-development groups and business leaders, perhaps stung by memories of the backlash from a tough anti-immigration law in 2010, expressed concern over the latest controversial bill headed to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

Just as the Arizona economy begins gaining momentum, the new legislation could hurt its recovery — and the state’s reputation as a place to do business — they said. In 2010, boycotts of the state hit the tourism industry especially hard after Senate Bill 1070 was passed.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council urged a veto of the controversial legislation that would allow discrimination against gays, saying it could affect Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale and have “profound, negative” economic effects for years.

Another group, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said it had no official position yet on SB 1062. “But our review of the bill raises concerns about the uncertainties this would create for our member businesses,” the group said in a statement.

Supporters said the proposed law only is trying to protect people from being sued for practicing their beliefs in their businesses.

But many other business owners — and the Arizonans who buy from them — expressed frustration Friday over a potential law that could make the state and its people appear unwelcoming.

“The state already is known as being discriminatory,” said Howard Fleischmann, majority owner of six Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair outlets in the Valley. “This would muddy the water and give Arizona a more terrible reputation.”

The controversy comes at a time when Arizona’s economy appears to be shifting into higher gear. BMO Capital Markets, in a report this month, said Arizona’s economy is poised to grow faster than the nation both this year and next.

The legislation clouds the economic picture, some business leaders said.

Representatives of Arizona’s tourism industry are especially worried, with hotel occupancy and other measures on an upswing and with the nation’s biggest sporting event scheduled in Glendale on Feb. 1, 2015.

“We’re greatly concerned,” said Kristen Jarnagin, senior vice president of communications for the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association. “We’ve already received countless phone calls and e-mails from people canceling trips or threatening not to return.”

Some critics already are calling for the National Football League to move the big game to another state, she said.

Economists at Scottsdale-based Elliott D. Pollack & Co., which was commissioned in 2010 by the Center for American Progress to study SB 1070’s effect on the state’s hotel industry, estimated the damage would be more than $140 million in lost business from meetings and conventions over a three-year period.

National reputation

Many of those raising objections Friday cited the impact of the right-to-refuse-service bill on the state’s reputation, the likelihood of the relatively affluent gay community to spend its dollars elsewhere, and the potential challenges in recruiting workers to a state that might feel less than inclusive.

In Jerome, Anne Conlon, owner of the Connor Hotel, said the bill sends the wrong message in light of Arizona’s fight in the 1990s over celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid state holiday and the controversy over SB 1070.

“We are going to send the message nationally that we are nothing but a bunch of rednecks,” Conlon said.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro of Temple Emanuel of Tempe said he is hiring at his synagogue but worries about his prospects.

“It is harder for me to convince civic-minded, sophisticated people to move to Arizona if they know that as Jews, they might be refused public accommodation. This bill makes it harder to attract talent to Arizona. This bill scares me.”

Dennis Hoffman, economics professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said that in business, perception is reality, which could affect the state’s ability to attract good workers.

Outside Arizona, he said, people ask, “What are you guys doing out there? What is going on? Why do you persist on policies that (are) going to be perceived nationally as unwelcoming?”

Years ago, “we welcomed everyone who worked hard. Now we want to select who works hard; it is a problem,” he said.

ONE Community, an interactive Web and events community for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and allied individuals and businesses, urged a veto of the bill.

“This legislation is very bad for business in Arizona,” said the group’s president, Angela Hughey, although she called the outpouring of criticism a positive sign. “This can put us at great risk ... or it could be a turning point for Arizona becoming more inclusive.”

In a news release, ONE Community offered possible examples of harm if the bill were to become law:

A taxi driver could refuse to drive someone to a synagogue because it goes against his or her religion.

Women could be in danger of losing jobs because, in some religions, they are not equal.

Restaurateurs could refuse to serve a Mormon family on the grounds that they disapprove of their religion.

More than 850 companies and non-profit groups in Arizona have signed a Unity Pledge encouraging diversity and support of LGBT employees, according to ONE Community. These include large employers such as PetSmart, Liberty Mutual, Allstate and Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.

LGBT people represent $830 billion in combined annual spending across the nation, the group said.

Impact on economy?

Opponents frequently cited the potential economic backlash if the bill were to become law, including companies choosing not to locate here.

In a letter to the governor, GPEC Chairman James Lundy, CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona, and Barry Broome, president and CEO of GPEC, warned that signing the bill “will upset the current balance between the right of business owners to manage their businesses and the right of employees to refuse on religious grounds to follow company policy or management directions.”

Arizona is witnessing a business comeback, the letter said.

“With major events approaching in the coming year, including Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona will be the center of the world’s stage,” the letter says. “This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl, and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts.

“In addition to the concerns with the growing negative attention already being portrayed across both national and social media, we have already been contacted by four companies we are working on with the Arizona Commerce Authority who will look to locate elsewhere if this legislation is signed.”

The letter urges Brewer to continue showing “political courage” and veto the bill.

The bill, written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.

Proponents say it is a tweak to existing state religious-freedom laws to ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.

Brewer has five days from when she gets it to sign, veto or ignore the bill.

As vocal as the opposition has been to the bill, its full impact can’t be known, as was demonstrated after SB 1070.

“You don’t know who doesn’t call you,” said Jarnagin of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association. “You don’t know the loss of business.”

Attorney Carissa Jakobe of Phoenix, among other small business owners, said she would show her opposition to the religion bill by the way she does business: continuing to represent any person of any color or sexual orientation.

Several people, commenting on the Facebook page, said they would take their business elsewhere if they were aware a business discriminated against particular shoppers.

The leader of the Scottsdale Gallery Association said that its downtown art dealers would support inclusiveness.

“We feel that art is for everyone and will never discriminate against anybody,” said Veronica Grassius, head of the group that represents many of more than 100 art galleries in downtown Scottsdale. “We welcome everyone.”

Republic reporter Megan Finnerty contributed to this article.


Posted on February 21, 2014 4:39 pm by Laurie Roberts

Gov. Brewer: Save AZ from crazy

This just in: Crazed gangs of same-sex couples are storming the streets of Arizona and terrorizing bakers, florists and photographers.

Insisting that said businesses accept their American Express Gold cards. Demanding that they get to baking, to flower arranging, to photographing.

Do it, they demand …. or elllllsse.

In response to this grave threat, the Arizona Legislature has boldly stepped up to protect us all. Heretofore, our leaders announced this week, the state of Arizona is employing its favorite 19th Century strategy: nullification.

Specifically, Republican leaders want to nullify a portion of the Great Commandments upon which “hang all the law and the prophets.” Or so a guy named Matthew once said.

That thing about loving thy neighbor as thyself? It’s out – or it will be if Gov. Jan Brewer signs the latest bill, giving Arizonans the freedom to look like total boobs.

It is, apparently, the Christian thing to do.

Aaaaand we’re off.

Again, that is.

After listening to Republican legislators rail this week about dire threats to our religious freedom, one might think that we’ve had a massive outbreak of brutish gay people storming the courts to sue every baker, every photographer, every florist, caterer and innkeeper in the state.

This, because they’re turning away gay customers.

Thus comes Senate Bill 1062, giving individuals and businesses the right to discriminate in the name of the Lord. Or Allah. Or Budha or Ba’al or whatever supreme being they may worship.

So that Muslim taxi driver can leave a lone woman standing on the curb.

So that dentist can refuse to ease the toothache of a woman in the midst of her menstrual cycle. (We’ll, of course, need a new law that allows for inspection to ensure that “unclean women” aren’t trying to make a mockery of his sincerely held religious beliefs.)

So that a business owner or employee can refuse service to anyone who lies (Exodus) or gossips (Leviticus) or employs every teen-age girl’s go-to phrase, ‘Oh my God!” (Exodus, again).

Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, explains that it’s all about protecting religious people from discrimination. This, by making sure that they have a legal right to discriminate.

“We’re strengthening the rights of citizens to believe as they see fit,” he said.

Rep. John Kavanagh – the Fountain Hills Republican who brought us last year’s famed bathroom bill — proclaims that it’s about protecting people from religious persecution. This, by making sure that they have the legal right to systematically mistreat other groups of people.

“The descendants of the people who fled religious persecution are now being criminally prosecuted by politically correct governments,”Kavanagh said.

Goodness, did I miss all those indictments wherein caterers and cake decorators were criminally charged? For what, failure to bake? Refusal to produce puff pastry?

Aggravated insult because the wedding planner won’t book a commitment ceremony?

Forget the fact that there really is no problem here, no need for this bill because contrary to the hysterics currently underway at the Capitol, florists aren’t being forced, upon pain of a lawsuit, to provide peonies for the table centerpieces.

Forget the fact that it’s an election year and choice bills like SB 1062 play oh so beautifully to the base.

It’s just wrong, in the name of God, to discriminate against people because you don’t like their choice of a mate. Or because of their refusal to wear burkas. Or, for that matter, because they believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

If I could ask the Gowans and Kavanaghs of the world a question, it would be this: What would Jesus do?

Would he refuse to build a house for a gay couple? Would he refuse to feed them or clothe them?

Would he tell them that yes there actually is room in the inn, just not for them because he doesn’t like the company they keep?

The Jesus I know would treat those his father created with kindness and respect. He’d treat them with love.

The Jesus I know would tell our leaders to leave matters of judgment and etnernal damnation to the man upstairs and to get back to solving problems we actually have here in Arizona.

Like protecting the vulnerable and boosting public education. Like figuring out a way to bring good jobs to Arizona. (Here’s a hint: SB 1062 won’t help.)

Gov. Brewer, you have the chance to do the right thing for Arizona, to calm the hysteria and save us from another round of crazy.

Veto this vile bill.


Reactions to SB 1062 span spectrum

By Megan Finnerty The Republic | Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:17 AM

Arizonans are forlorn. They are angry.

They are disappointed.

Or, at least those were the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of people willing to go on the record Friday about Arizona’s right to refuse service bill, SB 1062. The bill will go to Governor Jan Brewer’s desk Monday. She has five business days to sign or veto.

Reporters fanned across the Valley, and made dozens of phone calls and social media queries asking Arizonan’s and tourists from all walks of life to weigh in on the bill that enables all citizens to refuse services to anyone based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Only two who responded in favor of the bill would give us their name.

Bill is fine

Jacob Lakritz, 25, of Detroit, is in Scottsdale for a friend’s wedding. He said he personally doesn’t agree with the bill, but a private party “should be able to do whatever they want.” [That is already true. But under this bill a photograph who works as an employee for Wal-Mart could refuse to take photos of gays, Jews and Blacks claiming religion freedom and Wal-Mart could not fire him for refusing to photograhp Wal-Mart customers]

“If a private photographer, it’s their choice if they don’t want to take pictures for a same-sex couple,” he said. “I think legally it’s fine.”

Concerns about who will be turned away, and in whose name

“I would say that any belief that results in a family being left out in the heat or cold of Arizona without accommodation is not a true religious belief but is discrimination,” said Rabbi Dean Shapiro of Temple Emanuel of Tempe.

“Throughout history, Jewish people have been singled out and denied accommodation and that action has been in keeping with the law of the land. Jews know that historical suffering. And I hope and pray that no Arizonan ever does.”

Bill doesn’t represent Arizona as a whole

“I just think that there’s a lot of really extreme religious people in this state and very far right-wing conservatives that probably will (support) the new law, and they don’t take into consideration that most of the rest of the country is headed in a progressive standpoint with not being able to stand on those things,” said Joshua Meacham 34, whole lives with his boyfriend Steve Garcia, 43, live in the Valley but spend summers in Aspen, Colorado.

“I’m not necessarily against religion by any means, but I think that it’s important to recognize that you can’t use religion as a self-defense mechanism in a lawsuit.

Bill is against Methodist beliefs

Early Friday, Robert T. Hoshibata, Resident Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, sent a note to about 212 active and retired clergy in Arizona and southern Nevada asking them to reach out to Brewer voicing opposition to the bill.

“Our laws reflect how we value people. If the laws of Arizona that we value some and don’t value others, that’s outside of what we United Methodists Believe. In the letter, I quoted a very short portion of our Book of Discipline. It’s a book of laws that guide our work together as a denomination.

“‘We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefor we work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened.’”

Bill dampens international opinion

John Mazz, 35, was visiting from Canada with his wife, Mary, 27, and said the bill gives “a little bit of a sour taste to people traveling if they believe that the laws don’t reflect having freedom for everybody and their choices.

“I certainly don’t agree with passing a bill like that,” John said. “The art district brought us back here for a second time, the galleries are just beautiful, so it’s kind of a shame that we came for the art but then things like that are being passed.”

Tourism trumps distaste for law

Scott Taylor, 33, of Rigby, Idaho, was in Arizona on business and would not have a problem traveling here again as a tourist if SB 1062 makes its way into law.

"I go to New York, and I know I don't agree with half of what they do there," said Taylor, who is staying in Gilbert. "I may not agree with something, but if they have awesome attractions, then I'll come."

Legislators have “no shame”

“It’s one of the worst bills passed in state history,” said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer of the United Church of Christ, which has ordained gay men and women as priests since 1972, and routinely performs gay marriages.

“It’s state-sanctioned discrimination,” Dorhauer said. “We will identify the legislators who voted for this and take public action.”

When asked if they were going to publicly shame the lawmakers, Dorhauer, who is the president of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, said “I am not sure if shame would have any impact on them. If they had any shame at all they wouldn’t have passed this legislation.”

Unsure why government is involved

Trucking company owner Steve Troyer, 64, was visiting Mesa with his wife and said he wasn't sure the policy would discourage him from returning to Arizona, but, in general, he'd be inclined to travel to states where government didn't interfere so much in everyday decisions.

"I don't understand why government is even involved in something like this," he said, adding that he thought legislators were "overstepping."

"If I'm Christian, can they refuse me for that?" he said. "What if I were Jewish? Why if I were Indian, or if I were Black?"

Bad for faith communities

“Many people already assume that church folk are narrow, bigoted people who judge and discriminate against others,” Doug Bland, pastor of the Community Christian Church of Tempe and an executive board member of the Arizona Ecumenical Council. “Unfortunately, SB1062 protects our right to hate and discriminate. It’s bad for Arizona and bad for communities of faith.”

The Arizona Catholic Conference is the lobbying arm of the three Arizona dioceses (Tucson, Phoenix and Gallup, which covers a slice of NE Arizona)

The threats to religious liberty have become very real in recent years and are increasing. Due to these threats, it is important that Arizona’s RFRA statute be clarified to make sure that the religious liberty of individuals and businesses remain protected.

SB 1062 will help avoid the situations being experienced around the country where businesses are being forced to close because of their owners’ faith. Consequently, your support of this bill is greatly appreciated!

Reporters Weldon Johnson, Edward Gately, Maria Polletta, Parker Leavitt