Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Discrimination on Religious Grounds

Gabi Caballero, Photo Manager

The Arizona legislature recently passed a bill that would allow retailers to discriminate against the LGBT community based on the owners’ religious beliefs by denying them service.

The House of Representatives passed the bill with a 33 to 27 vote on Thursday, February 20th, however, it has been vetoed by the governor.

Some say the bill was a way to grant religious freedom while critics are saying it will open the door to discrimination. Giving freedom to one group of people at the expense of another is not the way to do what’s right.

If the governor had signed this bill, there would’ve complete outrage. Many national corporations including American Airlines,  AT&T, Delta Airlines, Intel, Marriott, PetSmart, and Yelp had asked that Brewer veto the bill stating that it is bad for the reputation of the state and will discourage tourists, potential workers, and even current workers already in the state.

Intel and American Airlines had expressed their concerns directly to the governor. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker sent a letter to Brewer saying, “I can assure you that this proposed legislation is causing tremendous concerns for our employees, particularly those who live and work in Arizona.” Intel says that the bill completely goes against their non-discrimination policy which “values and welcomes diversity in the workplace.”

President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Barry Broome, told Brewer in a letter that four companies who were contemplating expanding their businesses into Arizona have threatened to cancel their plans unless the bill was vetoed.

Apple has recently had plans to build a new glass plant in Arizona which would bring 2,000 jobs into Arizona. Even they had  told the governor to veto the bill.

There was also suspicion on whether or not the Super Bowl would still occur in Arizona next year if the bill were to be passed since the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee does not support the legislation.

The committee said, “We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. We have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential.”

There was so much at stake had the bill been passed. This would’ve been a tremendous mistake for so many reasons. The fight for equality is going strong and is no where near it’s end. The country would’ve been in a massive uproar and the negative effects it would’ve had on the economy wouldn’t have been something we could ignore.

The LGBT community is not exactly a small one, but it isn’t only them that the bill would affect. Anyone who doesn’t agree with discrimination of gays will be affected. To think that a member of the LGBT community could walk into a store and be refused services because of their sexual orientation is ridiculous. What if a straight person was to walk into a store and be considered to “look gay”? It is not fair for that person to judged and denied services because someone thinks they are gay. How then, is it to be expected that an owner can tell the difference between a gay person and a straight one? This only goes to prove how absolutely unnecessary, unconstitutional, and just plain stupid a law like this would be.

The fact that the House had even passed it lead to so much protest in itself. Just imagine what it would’ve been like had Brewer signed it. It was a very smart decision on her part to veto the bill. The effects it would’ve had on the economy and the lives of many people would’ve been drastically changed, and not for the better.

The list of national corporations that were threatening to take their companies away from Arizona was a long one. It was a good move for the governor to veto the bill when companies like Apple, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines had personally asked the governor to veto the bill. Numerous protests would’ve occurred and the lives of many people would’ve been affected. This was no longer about the government and it’s laws. This was about the ultimate morality of people as human beings. Signing the bill wouldn’t have been a simple act, it would’ve been a statement to all of America that with a simple justification, we can and will allow wrongdoing.

Religion should not be the justification for discrimination. We are a diverse culture, a melting pot of so many different people. We have managed to accomplish so much by way of social reform. We put an end to segregation and gave women better rights. It is a shame that we are in 2014 and America still even considers allowing this violation of human rights.