Arizona Senators Urge Veto of Discriminatory Bill
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for taking a clear stand against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, a bill that is widely understood to put lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people at risk of institutionalized discrimination in the state. The two Senators took to Twitter today to urge Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill, which was passed by the Arizona state legislature on Thursday. McCain and Flake’s calls come on the same day that Human Rights First and other human rights groups are urging the Obama Administration to take robust action against President Museveni for signing into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda.
“The United States is a global leader for human rights, and it is most credible when we lead by example,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “The pushback from Senators McCain and Flake in their own state when it comes to marginalizing LGBT people is especially important at a moment when there is a spate of new laws seeking to criminalize the human rights of LGBT people in places like Russia, Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere. Even more so when the Ugandan spokesperson is actually citing the pending Arizona law as a precedent for the signing of its odious bill today.”
SB 1062 reportedly seeks to protect individuals and businesses from lawsuits that they may incur from refusing service in the case when providing service may be understood as violating the individual’s religious beliefs. While this bill ostensibly applies to everyone, the proponents of the bill were clearly motivated by cases around the country where businesses were found to have discriminated unlawfully in refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. This was made clear by the debate in the legislature which was entirely focused on LGBT issues.
Three Republican State senators who voted for the bill – Senators Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley – are today joining calls for the Governor to veto it, stating, “While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”