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Rob Horowitz: Brewer Veto Cripples Effort to Roll Back Gay Rights

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Business owners' intolerance of gays was struck down by AZ Governor Jan Brewer's veto.

Governor Jan Brewer’s (R-AZ) veto last week of a measure giving business owners the right to deny service to gay customers and others if it violated their religious beliefs dealt a powerful blow to a rearguard effort by social conservatives to dent the growing momentum behind marriage equality and other initiatives that are rapidly propelling gay and lesbian Americans towards full equality with their fellow citizens. The legislation would have provided a legal shield for outright discrimination as long as it is cloaked in a religious belief. Its adoption by Arizona would have provided a boost to campaigns to advance similar bills in Georgia, Idaho, Maine, and Mississippi.

As a prominent conservative elected official, Governor Brewer’s veto—done after she carefully considered the political pros and cons—sends a message to other conservatives to proceed with caution on this political hot potato. Brewer faced fierce pressure to veto the measure from the business and corporate sector as well as from national Republicans—the same powerful forces that would likely be activated if progress towards adoption is glimpsed in any of the other states where this kind of legislation has been introduced.

Bad for business

The business sector weighed in because they were concerned about the negative economic consequences of adopting the legislation, including the possibility of groups boycotting Arizona. As The Los Angeles Times reported, Apple, American Airlines, Marriott, and Delta Airlines were among the companies imploring a veto.

Smaller, local businesses also joined the effort. For example, according to NPR, Tuscon's Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza received much media attention for posting a sign warning patrons that the restaurant reserves the right "to refuse service to Arizona legislators.”

Opposition from heavy-hitters

The NFL added their voice of opposition to the measure, raising alarm bells that next year’s Super Bowl, scheduled to be played in Arizona, could be moved to another state. It was precisely because of this concern that the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee voiced their disapproval of the legislation, proclaiming it would “deal a significant blow" to the state’s economy. The prospect of losing the Super Bowl is more than a theoretical threat to Arizona residents—the 1993 Super Bowl was moved from Arizona to California because the state repealed Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday.

Republican national leaders including both of Arizona’s US Senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, as well as Mitt Romney urged a veto. Nationally, Republicans—even if they don’t support same sex marriage—do not want to seem harsh or unwelcoming of gay Americans. According to recent polling, even a plurality of Republicans under 50 support same sex marriage. As the Republican National Committee’s own analysis of their recent national election failures accurately points out, “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays—and for many younger voters, this issue is a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be.”

As American history shows, discrimination dies hard. But the Arizona result demonstrates that in the case of gay and lesbian Americans it is dying. And that is truly some good news.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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"cloaked in religious belief"

...and this is how rights are lost..

Comment #1 by Donn Roach on 2014 03 04

Seriously how do they let you teach young minds? Please educate yourself:

“On February 25th a group of eleven renowned law professors from around the country sent a letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) warning that SB1062—the bill "which amends Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA)—has been "egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics." 
The mix of eleven professors consists of Republicans and Democrats, religious and non-religious, "some...[who] oppose same-sex marriage [and] some... who support it." Their letter was obtained exclusively by Breitbart News ahead of its public release.
Their letter focuses on the important role RFRA plays in "[enacting] a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases." And the professors said such a "standard makes sense" as "we should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have very good reason."
SB1062 amends Arizona's RFRA in two ways: 
1. "It provides that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business."
2. "It would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion."
Countering misrepresentations, the professors pointed out that "SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons."
In concluding, they urged Gov. Brewer to be sure SB1062 is "accurately considered," so that in passing judgment on it she is not "misled by uniformed critics." 
The eleven signatories:
Prof. Douglas Laycock, University of Virginia School of Law
Prof. Helen M. Alvare, George Mason University School of Law
Prof. Carl H. Esbeck, University of Missouri School of Law
Prof. Christopher C. Lund, Wayne State University Law School
Prof. Gregory C. Sisk, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School
Prof. Michael W. McConnell, Stanford Law School
Prof. Thomas C. Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Prof. Richard W. Garnett, Notre Dame Law School
Prof. Mark S. Scarberry, Pepperdine University School of Law
Robert Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois College of Law
("Institutional affiliations are for identification only. [The] institutions take no positions on these bills.")”

- Brietbart.com AWR Hawkins

But uninformed people such as yourself only heard “anti-gay” without reading it. It sickens me that one group (the religious) have to be the “enemy” because they don’t share your “tolerant” views

Comment #2 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

Mr Horowitz
If you read the 2 page bill, the words gay, lesbian or homosexual do not appear. The bill allows any business or person to refuse service to ANYONE because of their "firmly held religious beliefs". The loony radical rightie Jan Brewer folded like a cheap lawn chair under pressure from business groups. The conservative rubes in the Arizona Senate and House knew beforehand that she would veto this crazy bill, they just wanted to send a message to the world.
Sammy in Arizona

Comment #3 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 03 04


Really? Those 3 words don't apear anywhere in the bill. So I'm sure it would be absolutely shocking to all involved if that was the community that was punished by the bill. You know damn right which group was targeted by this bill, just like bills that seek to punish people getting abortions usually punish women more than men. Just because a bill does not explicitly state something, it doesn't mean that it won't be done. Anyone that claims that this bill was NOT intended to target gay people are liars or just plain stupid. The bottom line here is, regardless of the wording, there are hundreds of religions in this country and people have the ability to form new religions with new guidelines anytime they want. This law is way too broad and pretty much allows anyone to deny service to anyone else based on them "cloaking themselves in religion". What if I don't like fat people? Can I refuse to feed them in a restaurant because they are guilty of the sin of gluttony? Is that what we've become? People don't need a reason to hate in this country. Don't give them a reason to think they can get away with it.

Comment #4 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 04

Mr. Paulson, their are plenty of restrictions within the private sector. Its actually an expression of hate to force someone to do something against their belief system. The law is actually specific to its what it is intended. (see my previous post from progressive/conservative legal professors.) It is also insulting to start calling people "stupid" because government forbid they disagree with you. In legal terms, if something isnt stipulated, then it is not intended, sorry do not pass go, do not force upon anyone else.

Comment #5 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

Silence, do you have a link for this letter? How do they define "violate their religion"? This is really the key to the bill in my opinion. Does taking pictures at a gay wedding really violate anyone's religion? It may be opposed to their beliefs, it might make them uncomfortable, but how is the photographer violating his religion?

Comment #6 by John Onamas on 2014 03 04

Well John, here is the problem. We live in a country were everyone is free to express themselves. You tell people that it doesn't bother you, but what does that matter? You are not the one who is being asked to compromise what you hold dear. People the idea that you can FORCE another to do your biding regardless of how they feel is alarming at best. If someone believes that homosexuality is a sin then yes helping a gay couple celebrate this would violate their religion

What letter do you refer to? I will provide a link

Comment #7 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

You referred to a letter from renowned professors to Jan Brewer. "We live in a country were everyone is free to express themselves." Unless said expression makes you uncomfortable. You and others draw a standard of violation of religion that is far too broad.

Please answer this question, other than gays, which group of people would it be okay for a photographer to deny his services?

Comment #8 by John Onamas on 2014 03 04

here is the letter sir


Comment #9 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

No WE don't do anything of the sort. I am anti-trampling people's given rights. That photographer can deny services to whoever they choose, its their right as private business.

Now answer this question: Why are you and others obsessed with forcing 1 small bakery or 1 small photographer into doing something that they do not agree with.

Do you have so little regard for others that you don't care for their rights, only your cause. You refuse to answer me or others who have brought this up? What is the justification for the all out assault on those who, don't care what others do, but do care about when the government is called in to make someone do something.

Why is that ok?

Comment #10 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

Let's change the scenario.

If you went on an interview for a position at Employer A and during the interview decided the work was something you didn't expect or want, wouldn't you have the right to refuse the job? The photographer interviewed for the job found what it was and refused it. That simple. Employer A cannot force you to work for him.

Anyone want to join me at the neighborhood Temple or Mosque to see if we can rent the hall for a ham and bean dinner?

Comment #11 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 04

Silence, I started writing a response, but it disappeared from my screen. Weird. Rather than rewriting it, I'll re-post a comment from another thread that clarifies my interest in this issue, which is entirely constitutional.

1. Anytime you "protect" the "natural rights" of one group by setting up a system that allows this group to ignore the rights of others, it strikes a blow against the rights of everyone. We are all Americans entitled to equal protection under the law.

2. "Acceptance" cannot be legislated at all, nor can intolerance. These are up to individuals. Legislatures should stay out of this issue almost entirely. It's better left to the judicial Branch to determine whether constitutional rights have been violated.

3. Religious beliefs should have absolutely NO INFLUENCE in government laws and policy. The Constitution is a completely agnostic document, and in fact it ensures that faith and government do not intermix. When making policy and law regarding the rights of any group, leave your religion at the door.

Comment #12 by John Onamas on 2014 03 04

John, First off if you are going to write anything substantial, it is best to do it on a word document, least it refreshes and you lose everything you write. I find it interesting that you and I are both arguing for the same cause, the constitution. However we seem to find ourselves on different sides of the so called fence.

1) You seem to forget that anytime the government steps in (such as the cases in New Mexico and Oregon) and forces a private entity into coercion, that strikes a much bigger blow to individual liberty. Why isn’t the private business entitled to this protection that you claim we all have? This entire case is the favoritism of one group over another, so there is nothing equal about it.

2) I agree 1000% that “acceptance/nor tolerance” cannot be legislated, so why is it that the government is allow to do so? I don't believe any branch of government so ever be invited into these types of issues. Judges do not interpret the law as much as becoming defacto legislators themselves. Put it on a ballot, leave to the people and let that be end of it.

3) Is where we will disagree. The Constitution of the United States (with the Bill of Rights) separated religion on a FEDERAL level. (or national religion) However and I quote “it did not grant power to that government to interfere in Church-State relations decided upon by the states.”
-PIG to the American History, Thomas E Woods PHD 2004.

So you are absolutely correct on a federal level. This is not a federal bill, this is a state bill and if elected representatives of that state introduce and pass it, then it is no other state's prerogative. As much as it may displease you, peoples religious beliefs play a role in their decision making and by default how they govern.

Comment #13 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 04

"Full rights" like filing a lawsuit because someone won't bake you a frickin' CAKE???? Tolerance... YOU asked for it but you sure don't PRACTICE it.

Comment #14 by G Godot on 2014 03 04

2. You said, "Judges do not interpret the law as much as becoming defacto legislators themselves." Are you arguing for the elimination of the third branch of government? The courts exist to settle disputes, especially in cases where the rights of citizens seem at odds with each other.

3. Are you saying the separation of church and state does not apply to the states? Or that it should be waived in this case? This is a sacred American right. In this case, it's a moot point. The Arizona Constitution states: "The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land." And it says, "No law shall be enacted granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens or corporations." In other words, equal protection under the law, for everybody.

1. I'll close on your first point. While the text of the law carefully avoids specifying gays, you and others continuously point to two cases in which gay people were involved. This law was written with the express purpose of creating a system in which Arizona business owners can deny service to gay people. I know the conservative interpretation is different, but there's a simple test for this, which I presented to you already:

Please answer this question: Other than gays, which group of people would it be okay for a photographer in Arizona to deny his/her services?

Comment #15 by John Onamas on 2014 03 04

Here's a question I would like some of the more conservative voices here to answer... if a business wants to hire someone that is willing to serve everyone, such as a doctor or paramedic, is it OK in a job interview to ask them this? If someone were to say that I refuse to service an unwed mother, gays, someone that's divorced, etc. due to my religious beliefs, and they get denied the position based on that, are they being discriminated against due to their religious views? They are completely qualified to do the job, but because of their religious views, the employer does not want them. Do they have a case?

Comment #16 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 04

John Onamas,

I think it would be OK for the photographer to refuse to service unwed mothers, women who have had abortions, people that don't go to church on Sunday, people that bear false witness (lie), people that have coveted other's wife or goods. People of another religion that do not recognize Jesus as the son of God, atheists, and all other sinners. At least if you're a Christian/Catholic you could probably refuse to serve any of the above. Other religious people could have a subset of those and/or other people they refuse to serve.

Comment #17 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 04

John Onamas - Why does it need to be a group? I doubt if a couple, any couple, went into the photographer and requested their dog to be photographed there would be a problem.

As for another group, hunters. Do you think I should be allowed get a photographer that is opposed to hunting to come out and photograph a hunt? How about an pro-abortion photographer getting pictures of aborted fetuses to use in an pro-life campaign? Or vice versa? An anti-gun photographer for a pro-gun campaign, they can come to the range and take shots of people taking shots.

So there are at least few others. To be clear if I was in the business of photography or baking cakes, unless it was illegal chances are I'd do it.

Comment #18 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 05

Phil Paulson - A doctor or paramedic is a bad example. Doctors and other heath care professionals take an oath to heal.

To answer your question directly; No they do not have a case, at least in my opinion they don't.
My business, my rules, I decide who the company does business with and what jobs we take not my employees. My customers are my bosses, as such, I can refuse to work for them, by not taking the job. My employees likewise can leave my employ whenever they wish. I cannot force them to work for me.

p.s. the posting times are a little off. I have 7:38 pm, Tuesday the 4 of March. I posted my last before I had dinner.

Comment #19 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 05

Really John? Ok

Refute to #2) “The courts exist to settle disputes, especially in cases where the rights of citizens seem at odds with each other.” circle gets the square. However there is a huge difference in settling a dispute between two parties based on an existing law and setting law based on how a judge interprets. Pretty big difference. I want the judicial branch to be strict interpreters of the law. To say I want to abolish an entire branch of government is ludicrous.

Refute to # 3) How can an adult be so wrong on so many issues in one small paragraph. Have to break down into 3 points:

Point 1: I am saying that the states themselves get to decide what role the church will play in their state. Look into any of the Federalist – Anti-Federalist debates.

Point 2: (heavy sigh) Yes the constitution is the “supreme law of the land” in regards to any laws that may conflict with Article 1 section8, that is it. That is why John we have the 9th and 10th amendment. Anything not SPECIFICLY stated in Article 1 Section 8 goes by default to the states. So all that non-sense you wrote after is indeed a moot point.

Point 3) “This is a sacred American right.” So is the right to practice your religion (and by extension-religious beliefs) without fear of prostitution or coercion against said belief.

Refute to # 1) It avoids specifying gays so that ALL people in the state of Arizona may use this to shield themselves from what has become a lawsuit happy society. This bill does ensure that “equal protection under the law” will continue. Others have given plenty of examples of who else the photographer could refute services. One more: Photographer could refuse to take pictures for a candidate of an opposing party based on the values of that party.

Answer my question: Why is it ok for the government to come in and order a private business to do something they do not agree with? Do you realize the precedent this sets?

Comment #20 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 05

Phil: You have done a great job of reversing the issue. In your proposal, you have identified fundamentalist Christians as a special interest group that is permitted to exclude anyone who is not a member of the group. In essence, you have limited your services to a private membership. In fact, that is already permissible in most states--for instance in fellowship clubs, ethnic groups, and private single-sex schools. You didn't need all this complicated legislation to do this. It's not a good business model though.

Wuggly, You raise some good points, although I think I fail to follow your first point. Dogs are not constitutionally protected, so a simple "no dogs" policy is all that's needed. People--all people--are constitutionally protected. I should have defined group, and I underestimated your creativity. I all of your examples (as in the case of the baker and the photographer) the person providing the service should be able to say no.

Comment #21 by John Onamas on 2014 03 05


2) The job of the judiciary IS to interpret law within the context of the Constitution. Sometimes decisions lead to sweeping changes (Roe V. Wade, Massachusetts V. EPA, DC v. Heller). But the judiciary doesn't make law. It provides guidance to the legislative and executive branches, which do make law. No judge's decision can ever be 100% accepted. That's why it's an adversarial system. Out of the three rulings that I cited, I strongly disagree with two of them. Can you guess which ones.

3.1)Separation of church and state is a fundamental principle. Faith should not influence law and policy. No amount of parsing on your part will shake me in that firm belief.

3.2) Point of law your honor: with that clause in it's Constitution, Arizona accepted all tenets of the US Constitution as Supreme law. Meaning, the separation of church and state as described in the US Constitution is the standard Arizona must follow. All further discussion of this point should refer to my response to 3.1.

3.3) And so is the the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And lots of other things. One of the great things about the American system is that there is a lot of areas where rights bump into each other. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best: "Your right to swing your arm ends just where the other man's nose begins." Your right to practice your faith does not take precedence over another person's rights to exercise their beliefs. Not to be repetitive, but it's up to the courts to decide where the nose begins and your fist stops.

"Why is it ok for the government to come in and order a private business to do something they do not agree with?" Because the US Constitution allows it, through the judicial branch, when a dispute arises. And, in fact, the legislative branch you hold in such high regard does it all the time.

Comment #22 by John Onamas on 2014 03 05

One last point--my original point--this is legislative overreach that allows individuals to make decisions about the Constitutionally-protected rights of other in relation to their own. I don't care if it's gays, Moslems, or hunters--it's bad law, and it's an open door to legalized discrimination against any of those groups and others.

Comment #23 by John Onamas on 2014 03 05

Oh John, you silly loose constructionist,

2) You say that they interpret the constitution, but sometimes they can create laws, cite the paragraph and line the Constitution that you say they are interpreting that gives them that power.
- Ruth Ginsburg herself has been quoted with ROE V WADE as saying the court went "too far, too fast". It is a clear example of judges legislating, and that decision being 100% accepted.

3.1) Quote from the constitution where it specifically states that there is indeed a separation of church and state. Wrong again. Most states at the time of the Constitutions ratification had STATE SPONSERED CHURCHES. Which shows that it is indeed NOT a fundamental principal. Believe that idea all you want, but it is built upon sand and no amount of hand shaking will deter the truth of the matter.

3.2) I could recite every correct argument from 3.1 to disprove 3.2, also saying that anything outside of Article 1 Section 8 goes to the states (John you ever heard of Federalism, its pretty cool idea) Nothing in the Constitution gives any credence to you belief, unlike the Federalist-Anti Federalist debates that back all of mine.

3.3) Ok, so you want the courts to decide everything? Forcing someone to do something they do not want to do smacks of an entitlement society. Why can't they go to another person who offers that service John? I fear for people like you who feel the only way to get what you want is to bring the government in. Your right to practice your faith DOES take precedence over another person's rights to exercise their beliefs, because they are important to YOU and we live in a society that allows multiple (or none if they choose) faiths. If the roles were reversed, would you defend the christian couple as vigorously as you are defending the gay couple?

You are out of your mind if you think the Constitution gives government the right to entangle itself in the private sector, anything you quote will be in violation of the Constitution, because of people like you who do not fully understand it think it is ok.

Comment #24 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 05

This law is a good law because it ensures protection for all John, a ay person could use this law in the future you just dont see it.

Comment #25 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 05

Heavy sigh. Cite a single example in which a court created a law. That's beyond their role and power. That's civics 101.

The reason that there IS separation of church and state is because most of the original colonies did NOT have separation of church and state, and the system sucked.

I never said the courts decide everything. They decide upon the Constitutionality of laws, and they also decide not to hear many cases, instead throwing them back to lower courts or the legislature.

Of course the Constitution grants government the right to "entangle" itself in private affairs. Almost every decision of the Supreme Court begins with a single, private plaintiff or defendant. Did you forget that the judiciary is a branch of our government.

You are hearing what you want to hear and reading things I did not say. For instance: "Why can't they go to another person who offers that service John? I fear for people like you who feel the only way to get what you want is to bring the government in." You also accuse me of defending the gay couple.

Please find any of my words that that say I thought the gay couple was "right" or the Photographer was "wrong."

Find a place in which I said the only way to get what you want is to bring the government in. In fact, I have said repeatedly that the legislature (part of the guv'ment ya know)should have stayed out of this.

Why is government intrusion OK when it supports your argument, but not when it doesn't

Find a place where I defend the gay couple.

Finally, which 2 out of the 3 Supreme Court cases that I cited do I disagree with? It's easy research, and you might be surprised about my opinions. Not everybody fits into a neat little box you know.

Comment #26 by John Onamas on 2014 03 05

Alright Johnny Boy!!! Lit a fire did I? GOOD

ROE v WADE took away the states right to create a law and made it national, so therefore created a law (wow civics 101 is fun!)

Separation of Church and State at the Federal, not state (civics 101- there is a difference between the two with shared powers, cool right?)

You in fact stated that “Sometimes decisions lead to sweeping changes” what does that mean, changes in the form of laws- which are rarely challenged and become precedent.

I remember our judiciary branch. But there are limits to what it does. I think you mistake the idea of two private individuals going to something like small claims court and someone being sued because they wouldn't provide a service (once again, very big difference) Are you ok with the government (funny how you are now making me sound like I'm a southern, I am not) in all aspects of our lives, the NSA, etc? The judiciary branch is ok with all of that, how does that sit with you?

John this is your quotes: (and what I gather the crux of your argument)

“Please answer this question, other than gays, which group of people would it be okay for a photographer to deny his services?”

that seems to be defending the gay couple, correct?

You haven't taken the time to do the research that I have asked, so I will not reciprocate your request. You put it out there, the burden of proof is on you, just as it is on me when I present facts.

you seem to be fitting into a specific box all by yourself, no help from me

Also I do have one regret. I do wish you and I John were having this debate in the places that our Founders did. In a bar, for I am thoroughly enjoying this, but I hate doing it on forums of blog posts.

Comment #27 by Silence Dogood on 2014 03 05

John Onamas - The point I was attempting to make on "dogs" was I don't think anyone finds a moral objection to dogs. They may not like them and may refuse to photograph them for reasons of their own. Perhaps I should have used car or similar inanimate object.

Still for what ever reason a business owner should be allowed to refuse service, it's no business of government.

Comment #28 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 06

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