Hey, what's the big deal??? Legislators around the country and world on a daily basis pass laws to rob and rape the people they pretend to serve. Why should people around the world get upset if the Arizona legislator wants to screw over gay folks in Arizona???
That's the question the politicians are asking, not me. I know it's wrong for the government to screw over anybody!!!
National firestorm around legislation surprising to some
By Mary Jo Pitzl and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez The Republic | azcentral.com Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:54 AM
The storm surrounding Senate Bill 1062 was a stark contrast to last year, when an almost identical piece of legislation slipped through the Legislature with a similar vote and little debate.
The reason behind the shift has perplexed many lawmakers.
“I don’t have any idea,” said Senate Majority Leader John McComish, R-Phoenix. “We think it’s this benign bill, and all of a sudden, it explodes.”
SB 1062 would have offered a legal defense for individuals and businesses facing discrimination lawsuits if they could prove they acted upon a “sincerely held religious belief.”
But a number of forces helped transform last year’s relatively obscure bill into this year’s national, and even international, controversy: swiftly evolving acceptance of gay rights, a more intense nationwide push by religious conservatives for such legislation, a loud outcry from legislative Democrats and fewer distractions at the Statehouse.
Both attempts to enact legislation that proponents said was driven by a desire to protect religious liberties and that opponents said targeted gays for discrimination ended in a veto. But this year’s version met its end in a crescendo of public outcry.
In contrast, last year’s bill had a fairly quiet passage, eclipsed by the hot-button issues of Medicaid expansion and a fight over the state budget.
Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler and the bill’s main sponsor, attributed the heightened attention to what he called a disinformation campaign by opponents this year.
“There were certain communities out there that did a job on distorting what the bill did,” he said, singling out the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in particular. “And that allowed them to panic the business community.”
Yarbrough and other Republicans, including Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said their Democratic colleagues played a big role in amplifying the issue, motivated by the election year.
“It appeared to be a non-issue last year; there wasn’t any protests, there wasn’t any outcry,” Fann said. “Last year wasn’t a political year, and this is — that’s the only thing I can think of.”
Democrats acknowledged they were quicker to oppose this year’s bill. But it wasn’t to gain an advantage with voters. Rather, they said, they learned from watching last year.
“It snuck up on us last year,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix. “This year, we knew it was coming.”
“I whipped it up because I think it’s an issue that needs public attention,” Campbell said.
Scott Berliner, a Democrat and former legislative staffer, helped mobilize public opposition to the bill.
“It was definitely a collaboration between the Anti-Defamation League and Equality Arizona and a few other LGBT groups,” Berliner said. “And the lawmakers beating the drums.”
But it wasn’t the product of a well-planned strategy, he said.
“The whole protest thing was very reactionary,” he said.
Berliner said he picked up on the Anti-Defamation League’s alerts on the bill and used them to mobilize groups in the LGBT community.
The protests formed quickly after the House gave final passage to the bill last week. The lawn outside the state Capitol filled with protesters, many from the gay community, waving handmade signs urging a veto and chiding lawmakers for projecting an image that Arizona is a hateful state. The peaceful demonstrations drew hundreds over the weekend.
Developments outside Arizona also influenced the response, said observers inside and outside the state. SB 1062 was introduced against a backdrop of opposing social forces.
Tracey Stewart, assistant regional director for the ADL, said her group worked against the bill last year and this year. This time, current events helped shape how the public viewed the bill, she said.
“On a national perspective, many other states are going through the same thing, and are choosing to pull back on their bills,” she said, citing efforts to pass similar legislation in other states that have stalled.
On Wednesday, the sponsors of an Ohio bill that mirrored SB 1062 withdrew their legislation. Earlier this month, measures in Kansas, Idaho, South Dakota and Tennessee that were touted by supporters as protecting religious liberties were withdrawn or rejected.
At Focus on the Family, a religious conservative group, judicial analyst Bruce Hausknecht said lawmakers nationwide are taking up the bills in response to the expansion of gay rights, including marriage equality.
“That’s prompted a rise in state legislatures passing religious-freedom legislation, trying to beef up their own protections, because they’re seeing how vulnerable they are,” he said.
The New Mexico court ruling that upheld a gay couple’s discrimination lawsuit against a photographer who refused to take pictures of their commitment ceremony helped highlight the battle between religious-freedom and gay rights, said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA.
“People on the religious right are really trying to hold onto their old standards and with their own mores that are really under attack,” he said, adding he doubts the efforts will succeed. “The momentum in favor of gay rights is incredibly strong right now.”
Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, agreed that national forces played a role.
“The reality is a lot has changed,” she said.
Since last May, when Brewer vetoed the first version of the bill, states such as Maryland, Minnesota and Washington have voted to allow gay marriage, Soler said. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. And courts have overturned gay-marriage bans.
At the state Capitol, Republican lawmakers said they were caught off guard by the heated response, given the bill’s quiet passage last year.
“It’s the strangest anomaly I’ve seen of a bill moving through the Legislature,” said Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, a SB 1062 supporter.