On Friday, gay rights activist, acting legend and all-around awesome guy George Takei wrote an open letter to the state of Arizona regarding the passage of SB1062. The bill, ostensibly a ‘religious freedom bill’, is really nothing more than conservatives’ way of discriminating against gays and same-sex couples. Both chambers of the state’s Congress passed the bill along mostly party lines. Now, it is up to Republican Governor Jan Brewer to sign the bill into law. As of now, she has not made a move.
Below is Takei’s letter in its entirety:
Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.
Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.
But not you, Arizona. 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.
This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.
The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.
So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, 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.
And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.
So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.
Takei’s letter emphatically tells Arizona and its citizens that if this bill gets signed into law, then the economic and societal impacts will be felt for a very long time. In essence, Arizona will be legislating and upholding discrimination, much like the South did with its Jim Crow laws years back. His comparison to Jim Crow laws in his letter regarding SB1062 is not hyperbole. It is pretty much exactly the same.
Takei also mentioned Kansas in his letter and for good reason. That state had almost identical legislation on the books ready for passage. It easily passed the state’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives and would have surely been signed into law by its far-right evangelical governor. However, after hearing from the state’s business organizations, among others, the Senate killed the bill, realizing the long-term damage it would do to the state and the national Republican Party.
It all rests with Brewer now. She is facing a lot of pressure from within her own party. Arizona’s two US Senators, both Republican, have urged her not to sign SB1062 into law. Much like in Kansas, numerous business organizations are asking her to veto it. Even a State Senator that voted for the measure, Steve Pierce, now realizes what this could do to the state and wants Brewer to veto the bill.
Brewer has five business days to either sign or veto the bill. If she does not do either, the Arizona legislature can then just allow the bill to become law without the Governor’s signature. That would be a very cowardly way for Brewer to act in this instance. She needs to make a decision and it has to be this week. So, what’s it going to be?
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).