Arizona Center for Policy and Catholic Council support SB 1062 a - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Arizona Center for Policy and Catholic Council support SB 1062 amid protests

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More anger and more protests in Arizona, as a controversial bill heads to Governor Jan Brewer's office for her signature.  The question now is will she sign it, or veto it?  Will she see Senate Bill 1062 as a religious freedom, or a tool for discrimination?

Brewer had until Saturday to make up her mind.

In the meantime, protesters are gathering in Phoenix and Tucson to speak their mind.  While those who supported it said, the opponents were fueling a campaign of "misinformation and lies."

Members of Wingspan stood outside the state building in Tucson chanting "Our state, no hate" and "Our state, no hate".  The group fights for the freedom, safety, and equality of LGBTQ members. Opponents said SB 1062 was a big step back.

"Our message to Jan Brewer is simple.  Do the right thing.  Do not legislate discrimination in Arizona.  All eyes are on this country. On you," said Carol Grimsby, Executive director of Wingspan.

Opponents said the bill would allow business owners to deny service to anyone as long as they asserted their religious belief, and this could lead to discrimination against not only gays, but unmarried couples living in "sin", single moms, and basically anyone that a business owner felt lived against their religious belief. 

The Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group opposed to abortion and same sex marriage was one of the groups that helped write this legislation.

Aaron Baer, the Communications director for the organization said the protests around the state were "mis-information campaigns, in full swing."

"All of the fear mongering attacks against the bill, all of the lies about the bill have no basis in reality," said Baer.

He added that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that had been in place since the 1990's was already in place to prevent from discrimination from taking place.  We asked him what the purpose of this proposed legislation was, in that case.

Baer said the legislation strengthened the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and filled in the loopholes.

"Let's say that the Westboro Baptist Church went to a gay printer and asked them to print signs that say something offensive like God hates homosexuals.  That printer should be able to say absolutely not.  That goes against my religious beliefs to print that sign. Well, as a Christian, it goes against ‘my' religious beliefs to print that sign also," said Baer.

Former Arizona legislator Daniel Patterson said the bill was ridiculous.  He called it an attempt by lobbyists to funnel through legislation using lawmakers they controlled on "puppet strings".

"Where is the need for this bill?  Where is the demonstrated need?  You can go into any business now and they already have signs up saying they refuse the right to serve anyone.  I think it's a mistake politically, it will hurt some politicians.  It really hurts our state.  Makes us look less competitive economically and jeopardizes our future for events like Superbowl, future big events," said Patterson.

The Arizona Catholic Council released a statement on their web site encouraging Catholics to support the bill.

In a statement, officials said in recent years, the threats to religious liberty had become very real.  The bill ensured that the religious liberty of people was protected.

On their web site, officials said, "SB 1062 will help avoid the situations being experienced around the country where businesses are being forced to close because of their owners' faith.  Consequently, your support of this bill is greatly appreciated."

Not all Catholics agreed with that position.

Brendan Lyons, a local Catholic said, "As a Catholic, I am intrigued by Arizona's stance on the Religious Rights for Businesses to Close their doors to the LGBT community. This surprises me after Pope Francis gave this progressive response in 2013. 
‘Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized, Pope Francis told journalists after his weeklong trip to Brazil. Answering a question about reports of homosexuals in the clergy, the pope answered, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?'"

The Mormon Church issued a statement asking members to study the bill. A spokeswoman released this statement: 

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not taken an official position on AZ SB 1062. However, members are encouraged to be responsible citizens and become informed on the issue, then decide for themselves what their own, personal stance may be."

TREO (Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities) a group that worked on bringing businesses into Tucson was also strongly opposed to the bill.

President Joe Snell released this statement: "TREO strongly opposes this bill and today will send a letter to the Governor, asking her to veto it.  This bill could lead to discrimination and result in both companies and future employees avoiding Arizona.  We also strongly encourage you to email or call the Governor's office to voice your opinion on this harmful piece of legislation. "

Protesters with Wingspan said they would continue to protest outside the state building downtown until Governor Jan Brewer made up her mind.



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