As a straight, white male born into the middle class, I have faced very little discrimination in my life. Because of those circumstances, you should probably take the rest of this article with a grain of salt as it concerns my state’s seemingly blatant disregard for civil rights and its seemingly masochistic need to shame itself in front of the entire nation.
Yes, I am writing about Arizona Senate Bill 1062. Though Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 on Wednesday, it still highlights a disturbing trend in Arizona. SB 1062 would have amended existing legislation in the state and given business owners the right to deny service to gay or lesbian individuals on the grounds of religious freedom.
While I have not faced much discrimination, I am still disgusted by what this legislature is trying to do, which is turn this state into some sort of insular, bigoted Tea Party wet dream. This is 2014 and we should not be dealing with this type of legislation. The sad thing is, much of the state agrees with my sentiment. Over the past week, social media, traditional media and other outlets have been overrun with reports from civic organizations, local leaders, local businesses and regular citizens expressing disgust at what is happening here and supporting equal rights.
Despite the fact that this attempt at institutional bigamy failed, you can be sure the Arizona legislature will be back for more sooner rather than later. Just like challenges to SB 1070 did not stop legislatures from pursuing SB 1062, the veto of this bill will not stop future attempts to impose religious doctrine on the populace.
Arizona is a state divided, as evidenced by the legislation. Older demographics in the state (which tend to vote more and hold sway over elected officials) skew way to the right.
Additionally, religious groups (Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints, mainstream protestant mega churches, et al) run rampant across the state, spouting their hate speech disguised as religious rhetoric (or maybe no disguise is needed).
Just as we are recovering as state from the black eye that is SB 1070 (the anti-immigrant legislation passed in 2010 that lost much of its teeth in a Supreme Court decision), the legislature pushes this piece of filth and puts Arizona on the national stage again for all of the wrong reasons.
The state puts the gun in its mouth time and time again, threatening to pull the trigger and execute any chance we have at escaping the ugly way we represent ourselves to the world. As a young person who did not vote for one of the people supporting this bill, it outrages me to think that Arizona is becoming such a beacon of bigotry in the 21st century. I love this state and most of the people in it, but we are sitting on the wrong side of history.
But how can we stop it? The answer is we can’t. And we should not. Sure, the Governor vetoed this bill, but there are surely more to come. Maybe, for once, we should just let them have it, so they can figure out just what Arizona would look like with this type of law in place.
Instead of protesting and fighting to remove this terrible legislation, let the bigots and racists and neo-klan members have it. Let each and every business that supports this hateful legislation out themselves to public at large. Why would any person supporting equal rights for all want to patronize an establishment that secretly harbors these hateful views anyway? This legislation will make it easier to pinpoint the hateful nuts out there, so we can avoid them and, in doing so, put them out of business. That way, when they deny service to LGBT individuals, the rest of us can deny those businesses our patronage.
It is disgusting that legislation like this could exist at all. But by allowing it to exist, we can also allow these ideas to self-destruct by showing that views like this are antiquated and wrong. Let them have their legislation and call it morality. Meanwhile, those businesses that support it will wither and die as the country calls Arizona a pariah. As fiscal support for the people behind this legislation dies down, so too will their influence.
Let every major corporation, sporting event, musical act and entertainment draw cut Arizona out completely until there is nothing left. Let our economy fall into shambles.
Sure, the enclaves of religious and right wing hate communities will eat it up. But how long can that last? We live in a global world, brothers and sisters, and a local economy cannot sustain a state. Arizona depends on tourism dollars more than any state outside of Hawaii, California and Florida. Our round the year sunshine brings golfers, major sporting events and national corporate conventions to the state regularly that bolster the economy.
The NFL has already hinted it might pull next year’s Super Bowl from the state if SB 1062 passes (the league made a similar move in the 1990s when Arizona stopped recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day). Can the state take the negative economic impact of over $5 billion. How long will these hate mongers stay in power as business after business and event after event abandon Arizona for friendlier political climates?
And from the ashes, we will rise again, a better and more accepting place. Instead of letting these nut jobs take us to the brink of destruction time and time again, let them burn us to the ground and find out where these hateful views lead; only then will be able to rid ourselves of this false morality once and for all.