Apple joins protests at Arizona’s proposed anti-gay legislation: UPDATE

Madeleine Swain
26 February, 2014
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US television news outlets are reporting that the proposed pro discrimination laws being canvassed in Arizona in the US could see the state hit where it hurts most: in its wallet.

Apple is one of a host of major companies that have sent letters and made phones calls to Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer. The conservative Republican (surely, something of a tautology?) governor is facing growing pressure over state legislation that would make it legal for companies to discriminate against gay men and lesbians on religious grounds.

The bill passed the statehouse last Thursday and as NBC News reports, “Opponents have called it ‘state-sanctioned discrimination’ and an embarrassment.”

Apple, which has long had a strong and steadfast record in the area of gay rights and anti-discrimination, is due to open its huge new sapphire glass manufacturing plant at Mesa in the state. The plant, announced last November, is expected to bring 2000 jobs to Arizona, while Apple also owns five retail stores in the state.

9to5Mac reports that Apple spokeswoman Kristin Hueget confirmed on Monday that the ”company had reached out to Brewer and urged a veto”.

American Airlines chief executive officer Doug Parker and the Marriott chain of hotels have also warned that an anti-gay law could be bad for business. Marriott made a statement noting the financial implications of such legislation. This measure “would have profound negative impacts on the hospitality industry on the Arizona and on the state’s overall economic climate for years to come,” (via NBC News).

While American Airlines also pointed out that apart from the moral question, Arizona should really be thinking about its economic well-being. The airline noted how deeply Arizona suffered during the recession and said: “Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message.”

The ever prolific social media broadcaster George Takei made his views known with his usual brevity and wit (whether or not he is the actual creator of the content, the opinions aired are doubtless his). At time of writing, the below post had 263,208 ‘likes’. (To put that in context, the population of Arizona is currently 6.553 million and rising, making it the 15th largest population in the US.)

 

Can't really improve on George Takei's commentary ...

George Takei's Facebook message to the state of Arizona.

 

While it’s no great surprise that the happily out Takei is appalled by Arizona’s actions, even fellow Republics are wavering. Three of its state senators who originally voted for the bill have since had a change of heart, reports NBC News. The trio, state Senators Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley, sent a letter to Brewer that stated, “The proposal had been mistakenly approved in haste and had already caused ‘immeasurable harm’ to Arizona’s national image… While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterised by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.”

The bill passed the Senate 17 to 13 in a party line vote, but would have failed had Driggs, Pierce and Worsley voted against it in the first place.

The state’s two US senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake (proof that you can have not-so-conservative Republics, it seems) have also called for a veto of the legislation.

Here’s Senator McCain’s concise tweet regarding the issue:

 

 

Over the weekend Brewer said that she had “plenty of time” to make a decision on whether to go ahead or to veto the bill. That ‘plenty of time’ is actually until Friday. Which means two days for other companies and concerned individuals to follow Apple’s lead and point out all implications of such legislation.

If you’d like to share your opinions on the matter, you can email the Governor here or access phone and address details…

 

UPDATE 27.2.2014: The UK’s Guardian has announced that Governor Brewer has today vetoed the controversial bill, stating, “[It] could result in unintended and negative consequences” and that it “does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.

“I call them like I see them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision, I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.”

The news came only a couple of hours after a legal ruling in Texas that voided the state’s ban on gay marriage, The Guardian also reported, as it “did not comply with the US constitution and demeaned the dignity of gay people”.

 

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