Passage of SB 1062 by the Teapublican dimwits in Arizona’s legislature gives the impression that the entire state is intolerant, narrow-minded and bass-ackward. Of course, that is partially true. After all, Kansas, Maine, South Dakota and Tennessee all considered the same bill and ultimately rejected it. However, Arizona doesn’t deserve all the credit for being homophobic enough to pass SB 1062.
As it turns out, many of those behind the bill live outside our borders.
The bill began in the stink tank called Alliance Defending Freedom which was founded by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, Televangelist D. James Kennedy, religious scare-monger Larry Burkett, Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, Christian broadcaster Marlin Maddoux, and former Reagan official Alan Sears. Alliance Defending Freedom has pushed the bill nationally through its many affiliated right wing groups. One of those, Center for Arizona Policy, an Arizona-based stink tank, then shopped the bill around the legislature in search of narrow-minded sponsors.
Of course, given the hateful leanings of the Teapublican legislature, finding a sponsor willing to institutionalize and encourage discrimination based on religious beliefs (no matter how wacko) was not difficult.
In the State Senate, Sens. Steve Yarborough, Bob Worley and Nancy Barto were more than willing accomplices. In the House, a Tea Party Who’s Who consisting of Reps. Farnsworth, Kavanaugh, Allen, Boyer, Coleman, Gowan, Gray, Kavanaugh, Kwasman, Lesko, Livingston, Montenegro, Peterson, Pierce, Smith, Thorpe, Tobin, Townsend, Barton, Mesnard and Mitchell all jumped in the clown car to rush to add their names as sponsors for the companion bill HB 2153.
Many of those who voted for the bill claim to have never read it. That’s entirely believable as most of them seem to merely occupy a legislative seat as representatives of CAP, ALEC, the Goldwater Institute and others. Three state senators who voted for the bill publicly expressed their regrets after seeing the backlash. However, most of the bill’s sponsors have dug in their heels citing what they believe is a misinformation campaign carried out by the “liberal” media and other “outside interests.” They seem unconcerned that the bill was originated by outside interests.
As Gov. Jan Brewer is meeting with legislators and advisers in order to decide whether or not to veto the bill, the state is already losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cancellations for conventions and tourism. Many of the state’s largest corporations and most prominent business leaders have called for her veto. So have airlines serving the state, as well as the committee planning for next year’s Super Bowl in Arizona. Yet, I suspect Brewer is in no hurry to announce a decision. She has until Saturday to veto the measure to prevent it from becoming law. In the interim, she’s exactly where she wants to be…in the national limelight with all of the attention focused on her as it was before she signed the racist, anti-immigrant bill known as SB 1070.
Given that, it’s difficult to predict what she will do. Common sense advice and civil rights concerns have seldom swayed her before.
In 2004, Thomas Frank authored What’s the Matter with Kansas? The book explored the conditions and beliefs that led to the hateful political environment that exploded in Kansas. Maybe it’s time for Frank to write a follow-up: What’s the Matter with Arizona?