Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 today, the controversial bill that would allow any business owner to refuse to provide services to anyone whom they felt substantially burdened their free exercise of religion.
This bill was introduced, sponsored, and championed mainly by conservative Christian Republicans in response to aggressive pushes for acceptance (some would say it went beyond acceptance to flaunting) by the gay community. The most-cited instance that sparked the proposal was the story of the lesbian couple who sued a wedding photographer for politely declining to take photos of their commitment ceremony. (By the way, this lawsuit happened in 2006. The New Mexico supreme court finally upheld the initial court’s ruling in 2013. That’s a 7-year lawsuit, for anyone keeping score.)
In case you care what I think, I believe this to be a bad bill. Gay people are all too often treated poorly in this country, and because of that, I think that sexual orientation should be one of the protected classes when defining public accommodation (service providers, institutions, etc, that are not allowed to discriminate against people based on race, religion, etc). In other words, you shouldn’t be denied a mortgage loan simply because you’re gay (or Muslim, or black, or whatever).
I will, however, throw in the huge caveat that it seems pretty oppressive to slap a lawsuit on a photographer who will take any shots that you (as a gay person) want, except for participating in a gay wedding, which they honestly feel goes against their personal religious values. I’d feel the same about a black caterer who denied catering service to a KKK event, or a gay printer who denied service to a member of the Westboro Baptist Church requesting a “God Hates Fags” banner to me made. Seems odd to force any one of these people to do something so wholly contrary to who they are, but then again, some people like to push the issue. Oh well.
But all of this is just the background story for the real point of this article: People suck.
I’ve been keeping a cursory eye on this situation all week, and when I saw the news that Jan Brewer had vetoed, I thought to myself, “Self, this is A Good Thing. SB 1062 was a bad bill that would open up far more opportunity for people to be uncivil, antagonistic, and even bigoted toward one another, none of which we need any more of in this country.”
I did a quick search on Twitter for “Brewer” just to take the temperature of public reaction, and what I saw there really pissed me off. I looked at the “Top Tweets,” which show the most popular statements on the topic. Here’s a partial screenshot of the first page of results when I did the search (I edited a few out for brevity, but these were all on the first page):
All week long, Democrats, liberals, gay-rights supporters, and everyone else against this potential law have been strongly urging Brewer to veto this bill. They’ve been bringing up her conservative history, calling her ugly names, mocking her, and all the while telling her that she’d better vote against her own political party, and against a bill that had made its way through their government and to her desk.
And then she did.
Say what you want about her motivations, whatever you think they may be. But what she did took courage, and could severely hurt her position in her party and her chances at re-election. She took a stand and she did the right thing, according to everything they’ve been demanding all week.
I had expected to see happy people on Twitter, celebratory statements, and possibly even some gracious and sincere thank-you messages to someone who did a good job in a tough spot. Instead I saw the same hateful, spiteful, mocking rhetoric that seems to constantly pollute any political discourse in this country.
This is exactly why I hate politics. People seem to take pleasure in reducing anyone with another viewpoint into caricatures of themselves, labeling them The Enemy, and then doing everything in their power to deride and destroy them, verbally or otherwise.
You people (and you can take that however you want) have been crying about intolerance, disrespect and dehumanization all week. Then when someone in power hears you, understands you, and does exactly what you want them to do, you treat them with the same measure of contempt and injustice that you claim to be fighting against in this country.
You people aren’t above all this – you’re right in the middle of it. You’re part of the problem. We’re all part of the problem.
p.s. Don’t bother leaving a comment – I’m not responding.