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

WATCH: Restaurant owner calls disabled and gay customers ‘freaks’, refuses to serve them

 

The owner of an Enid, Okla., restaurant is under fire after a customer claimed he was discriminated against because he’s disabled, KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City reported.

Gary’s Chicaros’ owner, Gary James, didn’t make things much better when he gave an interview to a local news station: “I’ve been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a f**got,” he told KFOR.

Matt Gard, who was a regular diner at Gary’s, said James’s treatment of disabled and minority customers has increased over the years. He said he was recently kicked out while trying to enjoy a steak dinner.

“He doesn’t like certain people of race, colour, ethnicity,” Gard told KFOR. “Now, he tried to find a weak excuse not to let me in with my wheelchair or the weak excuse of having loud people with me.”

James denies Gard’s claims, saying he banned Gard for another reason. “He created an issue. You only have one time here. You create an issue, you’re out forever.”

“If you work, you own a business, pay your taxes, you’re more than welcome here,” he said. “[But] if you’re on welfare, stay at home and spend my money, there.”

At least 140 other people took to Gary’s Chicaros’ Facebook page to share their stories of being discriminated against by James.

All of which shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the official T-shirts at Chicaro’s. Those shirts say “F**got-Free Zone,” the N-word, and include threats against Muslims and Democrats.

James wears the shirt openly and says he’s proud of it.

“I really don’t want gays around,” he said “Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.”

When KFOR’s reporter, who is Asian, asked James if he’d call her a “ch**k,” he said only if they were drinking and “joking around.”

“If I reached over there and slapped the sh*t out of you, you should be offended,” he said. “But to call someone a ‘ch**k’ or someone call me a bigot, that doesn’t bother me.”

This article first appeared on Gawker.

—  Steve Ramos

UPDATE: 1 of 3 men convicted in hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr. has been executed

UPDATE: The Beaumont Enterprise reports that the execution of white supremacist and convicted hate crime murderer Lawrence Russell Brewer has been carried out. The execution was scheduled for 6 p.m., and Brewer was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.

Lawrence Russell Brewer will die tonight in the execution chamber on death row in Huntsville, and I just can’t bring myself to feel sorry for him. Not even a little.

Lawrence Russell Brewer

Brewer is one of two men sentenced to die after being convicted of the June 7, 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in my hometown of Jasper, Texas. John William King also faces the death penalty, but he continues to appeal his sentence. A third man, Shawn Berry, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Most of you, I am sure, have heard of James Byrd Jr., and how King, Brewer and Berry offered him a ride one night, then beat him up, chained him by his ankles to the bumper of a pickup truck and dragged him down a back road until his body hit a culvert and was torn apart. A pathologist testified that Byrd was alive when he hit the culvert.

King, Brewer and Berry were arrested within a couple of days. The story that came out in the weeks and months afterward was that Brewer and King met in prison where they both joined a white supremacist group, a splinter of the KKK called the Confederate Knights of America. King had lived in Jasper, and when the two men got out of prison, they went back to Jasper, where King and Berry became friends.

Evidence also indicated that the men — at least, King and Brewer — were intent on starting a race war. So they set out to commit as horrific a crime as possible, expecting that to be the spark that set off a blaze of racial hatred. Luckily, that didn’t happen, although not for lack of trying by outsiders on both sides — the KKK and the Black Panthers — who flocked to Jasper during King’s trial there. Brewer’s trial was moved to Bryan.

—  admin

David Barton’s homophobia channels racism

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Photobucket For those who claim that racism and homophobia aren't alike, or that racism is real while homophobia is a term “created by radical homosexual activists,” I turn to the words of pseudo-historian David Barton.

Courtesy of People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch (who will probably start charging me for using so much of their material), comes the words of Barton on a radio program. Barton was claiming that “anti-bullying” initiatives are really the indoctrination blueprints of the lgbt community to nab children. Now pay attention to his words:

There’s a whole lost of this that goes on that parents don’t even hear about but it is going on. All this bullying stuff, as Brian pointed out, it’s not the schools that are doing bullying, it’s the people from outside the schools coming in and saying “oh you got a bullying problem and we need to teach a course for you.” The people living there didn’t see any problem. But it’s these outside agenda-”

Doesn't that phraseology sound familiar. To those who fought the African-American civil rights struggle, the phraseology should sound familiar:

Here, more than anywhere else, movement leaders had to deal with a ferocious form of white supremacist resistance paradoxically fueled by a combination of outside intervention and the apparent futility of that intervention. In the long run the ICC order would lead to grudging desegregation and ultimately to new social mores, but in the short run, the perceived emptiness of the Freedom Riders' victory encouraged continued resistance on all fronts, including voting rights and school desegregation. With the help of meddling federal officials, outside agitators had invaded the state, yet the Mississippi way of life remained intact. Among white Mississippians in 1962, this was the primary lesson conveyed by the Freedom Rides. [Freedom Riders, p. 481-482]

Or how about from the words of Peter de Lissovoy, a civil rights veteran:

The idea of thousands upon thousands of young African Americans in the South being communists really would have been absurd, perhaps even in the wild fantasies of the southerners of those times. I guess the idea was that it was we “outside agitators” from the North who were communists trying to bamboozle the “good Nigras” of the crackers' fond imagination into communist revolution.

Back in those days, there was a belief among Southern whites that African-Americans were fine with segregation and the second class status that it brought. Many of them felt that complaints about segregation were the products of people from the North coming into Southern towns and riling folks up. They called these people “outside agitators.”

The belief was a way that many of these people dealt with the hard fact that segregation was wrong and the only reason why African-Americans didn't complain was because they feared for their lives.

Just like racists back then said, “Our Nigras were just fine until them outside agitators from up North riled them up,”  Barton seems to be saying “there is no problem with bullying until these radical homosexuals come in from outside the community and rile everybody up.

Barton knows that the bullying of lgbt students is a huge problem no matter where it is in the country, just like those Southern whites knew that segregation was a problem with African-Americans.

But back then, racists didn't care what problems segregation caused as long as black folks stayed in ” their place”

The question to ask is does Barton feel the same way about lgbt students and bullying.

Related web pages:

Bullying in Schools: Harassment Puts Gay Youth at Risk

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

 
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

What price diversity?

Arizona law highlights the level of fear, anger surrounding immigration. But can we survive without the diversity immigrants bring?

Diane Holbert Special Contributor

The immigration debate is a sign of how difficult it is for us to live in diversity. The Arizona government recently ruled that city police forces must ask for proper documentation of citizenship if they have reason to believe that those they are stopping or arresting have no papers for being in that state legally.

The federal government and several Arizona city police forces have sued the state over the law.

So what is Arizona afraid of?

Some say a limited amount of space, others say a limited amount of resources/jobs, and others claim that continuing to keep the status quo will bring in more crime.

Yet many people think this Arizona rule is racist. I believe it may be all four reasons, but today I am most concerned about profiling, discrimination, racism — essentially, the fear of diversity.

The U.S. is currently attempting the greatest experiment in diversity in the history of the world. We’re asking an enormous amount of ourselves to live in such diversity.

Our country is growing rich, not poor, in diversity: Hindus and Muslims, gays and straights, Protestants and Catholics, Russians and Vietnamese.

The list shows our wealth as a nation.

I have a friend who hired an undocumented worker several years ago. For “Pedro,” being hired by my friend meant he could send money to his family back in Mexico on a regular basis. He also knew that the longer he stayed to work with my friend, the higher was his risk of being caught.

It has now been four years since he has seen his family. He knows that if he returns home, he will probably never be able to come back to the place where he is making a steady wage.

Pedro is a reliable man who works diligently.

My heart says to welcome the stranger, like Pedro, and to be unafraid of what he brings to us. I welcome diversity and its wealth.
But my head says that it’s important to be a nation of order. So, what to do? How do we live in profound diversity?

There needs to be a clear pathway to citizenship for all people who are willing to contribute to our society. We need to be able to tax all workers to broaden the base of our infrastructure. Increased attempts to police the border will be no more successful than “The War on Drugs.”

We must honor and respect all persons among us and offer channels to become partners with us.

The way we deal with the question of immigration will say a great deal about our commitment to diversity or our rejection of it.

Diana Holbert is senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Cross Points to address race, class

Lovely Murrell

Cross Points continues Thursday, July 22 with a discussion of racism in the LGBT community. This week’s panel will focus on discrimination, class and privilege, and how these things are affecting the equality movement.

Panelists will include GetEQUAL NOW’s Cd Kirven, Mohammed Rahman of DFW BiNet and DJ Anderson of Equality March Texas. Lovely Murrell, a local co-chair of Creating Change, will moderate.

The series concludes next week with a panel on religion.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” said organizer Latisha McDaniel. “And we’re looking forward to continuing later with a new series.”

She said 20 to 30 people have attended each discussion.

The program begins at 7 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Memories of a segregated Dallas

The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett of Truth in Progress
The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett of Truth in Progress

Last week, I posted this blog about the Truth in Progress project, a three-year, multi-media project examining the intersection of racism and homophobia and how the black civil rights movement and the LGBT rights movement are alike, and how they differ. Marilyn Bennett and the Rev. Gil Caldwell are the forces behind Truth in Progress, and they are bringing the conversation to Dallas on Thursday.

The project grew out of a series of e-mails, and later a blog, between Marilyn, an old friend of mine, and Rev. Caldwell. So when Marilyn sent the link to the post to Rev. Caldwell, he responded with this letter, reprinted below (just FYI, Marilyn and Rev. Caldwell refer to each other in their e-mails as Younger Sister and Elder Brother, or YS and EB):

YS Marilyn,

Thanks for sharing the Dallas Voice announcement of “Truth in Progress coming to Dallas.” What a beautiful announcement of our visit to Dallas.

You spent time there at SMU/Perkins, and I  spent time there at St. Paul United Methodist Church where my dad was minister, and Booker T. Washington High School, across the street from where I lived, where I spent my freshman year in HIgh School. I arrived in Dallas in 1946 from North Carolina and left Dallas in 1950 to go with my preacher-father to Galveston. YS, you have your memories of Dallas (some good, some not-so-good) and I, your EB, have the same.

—  admin