If less government intrusion is a principle at the heart of your political preferences, then Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of Senate Bill 1062 was the right thing to do. Arizona didn’t need the law, she said, because the implications of such a broadly written piece of legislation would open doors no one had thought of. Besides that, there were no situations in Arizona that provided examples demonstrating a need for such legislation. And after the veto, nothing has changed. In Arizona, if you go into a private business, and they tell you they prefer not to serve you because your lifestyle isn’t consistent with their religious beliefs, you have the simple option of seeking out another business that will serve you.
There are some aspects of this whole issue, however, that are somewhat troubling.
Rush Limbaugh blamed the pressure that was put on the governor as having come from what he calls “the drive-by media” and the liberal “establishment.” Those are deliberately ambiguous terms that he frequently uses to buck up his straw man arguments, but in this case, he was dead wrong. The pressure came from the corporate business establishment within the state of Arizona, a group that is relatively enthusiastic in its support for the Republican party. To be sure, there were more than likely thousands of true political “liberals” in the huge crowds that gathered in front of the state capitol for a week. The Republican dominance of Arizona politics is already shaky, and handing their opponents an issue like this in an election year was not a wise move, to be sure. But the real pressure brought to bear on Governor Brewer came from the big corporate interests with substantial investment in Arizona. And personally, I think the pressure from professional sports may have been the clincher.
Governor Brewer, whom no one would ever mistake for one of the state’s better governors, only had to envision what would happen to Republican control of the state legislature if the Super Bowl had pulled out. They would have, too. Arizona’s first Super Bowl was delayed by several years because the state refused to recognize the federal holiday for the birthday of Martin Luther King. To lose another significant event like that, along with the media attention and the money that it brings in would have created a backlash at the polls that would have been monumental. The Republicans lost two important congressional races in 2012, and the state’s congressional delegation is now majority Democrat. They also lost some standing in the state legislature. An issue like this, on which the loss of the Super Bowl would have been blamed, would have had major impact.
Then, too, there was pressure from the state’s tourism industry, which is huge, getting bigger, and also involves professional sports because half of major league baseball spends its spring training there, and the all star game in Arizona is coming up. Along with that, Delta Airlines, which is expanding in the Phoenix area, used pressure and their spokespersons talked about moving a lot of jobs to Arizona from Atlanta if Georgia passes a similar law, and Arizona rejected SB 1062. They were not lonely voices, either. A plethora of corporate interests became involved in putting pressure on Governor Brewer.
Now the governor may have already decided to veto the bill, and she may have taken those few days to sit on it and contemplate what she was going to do. But as things became clear, in spite of the rhetoric in her relatively short, and comment-less speech, the pressure came about as a result of pressure from big business with big money. And that was a big deal. It also appears that issues regarding same sex relationships are going to come down on the dividing line between moderate Republicans and the various tea party interest groups. Big money interests are always self serving, and that should give a hint about what will happen politically in the future.