Arizona lawmakers pass controversial anti-gay bill

UnknownArizona’s Legislature has passed a controversial bill that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, CNN reported.

The bill, which the state House of Representatives passed by a 33-27 vote Thursday, now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and onetime small business owner who vetoed similar legislation last year but has expressed the right of business owners to deny service.

The measure has drawn criticism from Democrats and business groups who said it would sanction discrimination and open the state to the risk of damaging litigation.

“With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” Anna Tovar, the state senate Democratic minority leader, said in a statement. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”

In a letter to Brewer on Friday, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council urged the governor to veto Senate Bill 1062, saying the “legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come.”

“The legislation places businesses currently in Arizona, as well as those looking to locate here, in potentially damaging risk of litigation, and costly, needless legal disputes,” council President Barry Broome wrote, adding that four unidentified companies have vowed to locate elsewhere if the legislation is signed.

He added, “With major events approaching in the coming year, including Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona will be the center of the world’s stage. This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl, and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts.”

The bill is being pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. The group has justified the measure on grounds that the proposal protects people against increasingly activist federal courts.

“As we witness hostility towards people of faith grow like never before, we must take this opportunity to speak up for religious liberty,” the group said on its website, asking people to contact Brewer and urge her to sign the bill. “The great news is that SB 1062 protects your right to live and work according to your faith.”

Cathi Herrod, the center’s president, told CNN on Friday, “The Arizona bill has a very simple premise, that Americans should be free to live and work according to their religious faith. It’s simply about protecting religious liberty and nothing else.”

Herrod said the bill’s opponents are “showing unbelievable hostility toward religious beliefs.”

“America still stands for the principle that religious beliefs matter (for) something in this country, that we have the right to freely exercise our religious beliefs,” she said.

But Robert Boston, a spokesman for the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told CNN the legislation would “fling the door wide open to discrimination, not just against gay people, but basically to any class of individuals that a religious fundamentalist decides he or she doesn’t want to deal with.”

He added, “A woman who is pregnant out of wedlock, for example, ‘Well, out the door, you don’t get served in my business.’ ”

The Arizona legislation was passed as conservative states work to counter laws legalizing same-sex marriage. Arizona voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona called the bill “unnecessary and discriminatory.”

“What today’s bill does is allow private individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate, sending a message that Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming,” the group said in a statement.

Some Republican legislators have defended the bill as a First Amendment issue, while Democrats dismissed it as an attack on gays and lesbians.

“We saw it with Russia and the Olympics,” said state Rep. Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat, who voted against the legislation, according to KPHO. “I mean, hey, I’m not sure if Russia is any less progressive than Arizona now against gay rights to be quite honest with you.”

Monica Jones, a Phoenix resident, agreed: “Think about what this says to the rest of the country. We are not Russia. We are a first nation. And, as Americans, we have civil rights.”

—  Steve Ramos

Openly bi Arizona legislator Kyrsten Sinema announces bid for Congress

One night just about four years ago, I was in the Rose Room at Station 4, waiting to participate in what was then an unprecedented event in Dallas — a debate of sorts between official representatives from the campaigns of then-senators and Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

While I was standing around waiting for organizers to tell me it was time to start, a vivacious young woman with short blond hair walked up and introduced herself to me as Kyrsten. It was kind of loud in the Rose Room then and so I couldn’t clearly hear what she was telling me. I did hear her say that she was from Arizona, and that she was backing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. I thought she was an Obama campaign staffer.

Before long, though, I found out that Kyrsten was actually Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, that state’s first legislator who was an out and proud member of the LGBT community.

I was impressed with the young woman’s personality and her passion. So since then, I have kind of kept up with Sinema through news stories about her on the Internet. I read with interest the news reports two years ago with Sinema was elected to the Arizona State Senate. I was actually quite pleased today when I read that Sinema has announced she is resigning from the state Senate to run from Congress representing Arizona’s newly drafted 9th District.

Don’t take that as an endorsement of Sinema’s campaign for Congress. I just mean that I believe our community has a better chance of making progress toward full equality when there are members of our community holding elected office, and we can’t have LGBT elected if we don’t have LGBT candidates. And from what I hear, Sinema is a strong candidate.

According to the Phoenix New Times, Sinema is the only Democrat to have officially declared a candidacy in District 9, although another state senator, David Schapira has formed an exploratory committee for a possible congressional run, and Arizona Democratic Party Chair Andrei Cherny is also rumored to be considering joining the race.

As the New Times also pointed out, in Arizona, members of Congress aren’t required to live in the district they represent. And Sinema actually lives in District 6. She chose to run for District 9, however, because it is more progressive than her home district, which leans toward the Republican side.

And speaking of Republicans, the New Times said Congressman Ben Quayle (yes, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle), who lives in District 9, is likely to run instead in District 6 where he would face Congressman David Schweikert in the Republican Primary.

Turning back to the Democrats, Sinema, in announcing her candidacy on her Facebook page, said: “I’ve decided to run for Congress because we need to wake up Washington! I will fight for the forgotten middle class and stand up to a system that is rigged against them.”

You can watch her video announcing her candidacy below.

—  admin

Arizona Legislature Blocks Westboro Baptist Church Picket from Tucson Shooting Funerals

The Arizona legislature has passed emergency legislation ensuring a 300-ft distance between the Westboro Baptist Church and funerals of Tucson shooting victims this weekend, ABC15 reports:

Phelps Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema said when she heard of the plans, she got downright angry and decided to take action. 

Sinema sponsored Senate Bill 1101 and got some help from fellow legislators. 

"We patterned legislation after Ohio's law which is constitutional, it’s been upheld in court, and I got permission from the speaker and the senate president to wave the rules," Sinema said.

That bill was passed just before 3 p.m. Tuesday, and is expected to be signed by Governor Brewer, tonight.

"The bill requires them to be at least 300 feet away from the funeral from an hour before the funeral starts to an hour after it ends and that way people can grieve and love in peace," Sinema said.

The legislation is said to be similar to what 40 other states have currently adopted. 

Shortly after the shooting, the hateful church announced plans to picket the funerals, accompanied by a video from WBC Fred Phelps. The plans inspired a counter protest to raise funds for the Anti-Violence Project of Southern Arizona.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

The Blend Sunday Open Thread + updates on Arizona tragedy

There has been a lot of news out there for a weekend, particularly with the tragic Arizona shooting. First, this update on the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition Sunday as investigators attempted to understand what motivated a gunman’s shooting rampage that killed six and as investigators asked for the public’s help in finding a possible accomplice who was still at large.

University Medical Center spokeswoman Darci Slaten told The Associated Press that Giffords remained sedated after undergoing a two-hour surgery Saturday and has not been conscious since the shooting. She said more information will be released at a news conference in which one of the doctors who operated on Giffords plans to speak.

Some other new information since last night (MSNBC).

Right: Investigators said they were looking for an accomplice, believed to be in his 50s, who may have assisted in the attack.

The Pima County Sheriff’s office listed the dead as
  • John M. Roll, 63, a federal district court judge.
  • Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords’ director of community outreach.
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
  • Christina-Taylor Green, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary.
  • Dorthy Morris, 76.
  • Phyllis Schneck, 79.

A 9mm Glock handgun that had what police described as “an extended clip” with 30 bullets was recovered at the scene, The Washington Post reported. Officials told The Associated Press the gun used in the attack was purchased legally. The Post said it was bought Nov. 30 from the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson.

…Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There is a discussion board at MSNBC where you can leave condolences for the families of those affected by the shootings.

* NYT: Bloodshed puts new focus on vitriol in politics.

***

* As horrible as the domestic terrorism news in Arizona was to take, look at what is going on south of the border related to narco-terrorism in a city known for tourism – 27 deaths, including 14 decapitated, rock Acapulco.

Feel free to post links to stories out there that may have been missed.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

What do we know about the Arizona shooter?

There is not a lot of information about the man arrested for shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), killing S.S. District Judge John Roll, a 9-year-old child and injuring at least 18 people. What we know now. Feel free to add links to new information in the comments.

CBS:

Police said the suspect, Jared Loughner, 22, has had one minor run-in with the law. Little information is known immediately about Laughner – such as his background or a possible motive in the attack.

Police said a pistol with an extended magazine was used.

A law enforcement source told CBS News that a man apparently stood up in the crowd during the town hall meeting, shouted something and then opened fire. Someone – possibly police or security – then shot at the gunman.

The gunman has been apprehended but it is unknown if he was wounded.

Around the Twittersphere, there is talk that this is Loughner’s YouTube page, but it has not been confirmed. Let’s just say this person is what we feared – a winger with serious issues.

UPDATE: CNN has compiled a sampling of the Arizona shooting suspect’s social-media postings:

MySpace

December 26, 2010:

I’m not going to change the mistakes, you don’t know – funny! (I think the CIA watches my-space)

—–

December 30, 2010:

Literate Letter: Dear Reader, Brainwash.

…..Dear Reader,….. I’m searching. Today! With every concern, my shot is now ready for aim. The hunt, a mighty thought of mine

—–

December 30, 2010:

I now understand a certain word — Cult!

—–

December 30, 2010:

I know how to graduate without a cult ceremony: Please! Don’t think of murdering.

—–

January 8, 2010 (posted at about 5 a.m. MT):

Good-bye friends.

Dear friends,…..Please don’t be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5%. I haven’t talked to one person who is literate.

Statement from John McCain:

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made the following statement regarding the horrifying attack at an event for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in Tucson, Arizona:

“I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.

“Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law.”

Love this development, feeling guilty, much, you wingers? From Marc Ambinder:

Wingnuts already at work planting fake FB pages portraying shooter as leftist. http://on.fb.me/fUiaCU

And how about this:

Tea party activists fear backlash in wake of shooting of Rep. Giffords

Tea party activists condemned today’s shooting and said they are concerned that the act will be blamed on their movement.

“A lot of people have bets on how long it will take before they blame this on the tea party and that’s absolutely ridiculous,” Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, told Congress.org.

…”This heinous act will change the interaction between elected officials and their constituents,” the group’s Facebook wall said. “People also pray for the safety of congressmen, senators, President Obama and other elected officials in the aftermath of this shooting.”

Just an observation — one has to ask why all the site scrubbing (Palin, Free Republic) if the right wing thinks the shooter isn’t one of “their own?” Palin and Co. need to own the rhetoric and leave it up for all to see.

Related:

* AZ U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords clears surgery after attempted assassination in Tucson
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Congresswoman Among Those Shot In Arizona

A gunman shot and injured several people, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, this morning at a Safeway supermarket in Tuscon. Accordng to The Tuscon Citizen, Giffords, who was holding an event at the store, was shot in the head at close range.

NPR reports:

Gg U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot outside a grocery store in Tucson while holding a public event, Arizona Public Media reported Saturday. The Democrat, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at the Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

At least five other people, including members of her staff, were hurt. Giffords was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson. Her condition was not immediately known. Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up firing indiscriminately and then ran off, Michaels said. According to other witnesses, he was tackled by a bystander and taken into custody.

CNN is reporting that at least 12 people have been wounded.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

HRC Members Keep October Hot in Arizona

The following is from HRC’s Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson:

With just over two weeks until Election Day, there’s no “enthusiasm gap” in Tempe, Arizona, where HRC members and friends are working hard to reelect Congressman Harry Mitchell of Arizona’s 5th district.  Politico.com called this the second hottest House race in the country and every  member I’ve talked to knows it.  You can feel their sense of urgency – they know it might be their help that makes the difference in this tight race.

I joined members of HRC@ASU, our campus group at Arizona State, along with members of Arizona State Young Democrats for a canvassing event on Sunday morning that brought out 20 college students in near-record-breaking heat to knock on doors for Mitchell.  Twenty college students on a Sunday morning – that’s what I call enthusiasm!

Other HRC’ers are joining us at the campaign headquarters this week, where with the help of HRC’s Phoenix Steering Committee we’ve arranged two opportunities to get involved with the Mitchell for Congress campaign.  Members who attend will get a tour of the campaign headquarters, hear from the campaign staff about what’s needed in these crucial final days and learn how they can plug in to this important campaign.  Best of all, Congressman Mitchell himself will drop by to thank supporters personally for getting involved.  Events are being held at the following times:

Tuesday, October 19, 6:30 PM

Thursday, October 21, 12:30 PM

Click here for a map to the campaign headquarters.

Please come join us –  don’t let an “enthusiasm gap” cause you to wake up with regrets on November 3rd!

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Harry Mitchell for Congress.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Tragedy waiting to happen? Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia allow loaded guns in bars

Looking at the states in question, perhaps we should not be surprised, but seriously, how is this a good idea ANYWHERE in this gun-loving, hair-trigger temper, liquored-up society? (NYT):

Happy-hour beers were going for at Past Perfect, a cavernous bar just off this city’s strip of honky-tonks and tourist shops when Adam Ringenberg walked in with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol in the front pocket of his gray slacks.

Mr. Ringenberg, a technology consultant, is one of the state’s nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders who have recently seen their rights greatly expanded by a new law – one of the nation’s first – that allows them to carry loaded firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

…The new measures in Tennessee and the three other states come after two landmark Supreme Court rulings that citizens have an individual right – not just in connection with a well-regulated militia – to keep a loaded handgun for home defense.

…State Representative Curry Todd, a Republican who first introduced the guns-in-bars bill here, said that carrying a gun inside a tavern was never the law’s primary intention. Rather, he said, the law lets people defend themselves while walking to and from restaurants.

The purported mitigating factor here is the gun-toter cannot drink alcohol in the establishment. If these laws are challenged in states with big urban city centers and gun restrictions fall by the wayside, you can imagine the chaos that will ensue.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

‘We have did what was right for Arizona’

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona is up for re-election this fall. Brewer, a Republican, took over for Janet Napolitano in 2008 when Napolitano became secretary of Homeland Security. Brewer is best known for supporting and signing that state’s new anti-immigration law.

While we don’t usually highlight politics in other states unless it’s LGBT-related, but this one-minute video is really very funny. Or embarrassing. But how else could it turn out when you start by saying “It’s  great to be here with Larry, Barry and Carrie … I have … shit … done so much …”

—  David Taffet

Arizona AG Terry Goddard Will Appeal to Secure Right to Discriminate Against Gay State Employees

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (pictured), who is campaign for governor, will appeal a judge's ruling that halted the state from implementing HB 2013, which would bar the state from granting health benefits to the partners of gay employees, which costs Arizona about million of its 5 million budget to provide benefits to all state employees. Says Gov. Jan Brewer's office: "We are appealing the preliminary injunction because we disagree with the federal court's initial injunction ruling and we believe the legislature has the ultimate authority to make state employee benefit decisions."


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Queerty

—  John Wright