- As if Arizona didn't have enough of a PR problem. Four years after igniting outrage for passing anti-immigrant law SB 1070, the Grand Canyon state is going after the gays.
- Under the guise of protecting "religious liberty," on Friday Arizona passed a law that would allow for-profit companies to deny service to gays and lesbians so long as they're motivated by their religious beliefs—a move so radical even Kansas balked at passing similar legislation earlier this month.
- Social conservatives say such laws protecting religious conscience are necessary as gay marriage sweeps the nation.
- The bill now goes to Governor Jan Brewer, who vetoed similar legislation last year but has asserted the right of business-owners to refuse gays and lesbians service: "In my life and in my businesses, if I don't want to do business or if I don't want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I'm not interested. That's America. That's freedom." ...
- This freedom to discriminate, say gay-rights supporters and business representatives, will bring the state negative press, hurt the economy, and lead to costly litigation.
- That's not just a scare tactic. Corporate boycotts following the passage of the state's anti-immigrant bill, have cost Arizona $23 million in lost revenue and $350 million in sales since 2010.
- So the big question: Will or won't Brewer sign? Chuck Coughlin, who led the governor's transition team after her re-election in 2009, says no.
- The governor, meanwhile, says she has "plenty of time" to decide.
- In the meantime, Arizona gay-rights groups have aren't waiting around, taking to the state capitol in protest over the weekend. One local pizzeria in Tucson has even pledged to refuse service to Arizona legislators if the bill passes.
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