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Brewer rejects right-to-discriminate bill
The fight over a controversial anti-gay bill in Arizona came to an abrupt end last night, but related measures are still pending in several other states.
By Steve Benen
"Senate bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I've not heard one example in Arizona, where business owners' religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago."
Though the move was widely expected -- even many Arizona Republicans had turned against the measure -- some high-profile conservatives were not impressed. As Rachel noted on the show last night, Rush Limbaugh told his audience that Brewer was being "bullied by the homosexual lobby," while Fox News' Tucker Carlson described the effort to defeat the proposal as "fascism."
In Politico this morning, Rich Lowry didn't go quite that far, but he nevertheless complained about the "hysteria" from civil-rights advocates, which led to a veto Lowry sees as "foolish."
This was not the prevailing view. Indeed, one of the more interesting angles to the recent fight is the extent to which the private sector rallied against Arizona's anti-gay proposal. Jonathan Capehart noted, "Never before have I seen such full-throated tri-partisan opposition to a piece of anti-gay legislation. By tri-partisan I mean Democrats, Republicans and corporations. That Democrats were against the measure was a no-brainer. That Republicans and businesses joined them to not only decry the bill's passage bill but to also demand that Brewer veto it was remarkable."
But as we've discussed, Arizona was the first state in which the legislature actually passed a right-to-discriminate bill, but it's not the only state where the issue is under consideration. Civil-rights proponents succeeded in the Grand Canyon State, but they'll now have to turn their attention elsewhere.
At last count, there are 15 states where right-to-discriminate measures have been introduced. Many are flailing, one is now officially dead, and the rest are pending.
But as of yesterday, Ohio is no longer a serious threat.
The lead sponsors of an Ohio bill that critics say mirrors controversial right-to-refuse legislation in Arizona said Wednesday they are withdrawing the legislation. Co-sponsors Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, and Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Oxford, agreed to remove House Bill 376 from consideration after increased pressure from civil and gay rights groups and concerns about controversy in Arizona.
And what about Georgia, where legislators appeared to be following Arizona's lead? Adam Serwer flagged a report from the local NPR affiliate yesterday, quoting the Republican head of the state House Judiciary Committee. Asked about the bill, he said he "can't see it happening. It came in rather late in the session. Too many proponents and opponents."