In 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill known as SB 1062 after a massive national outcry. The bill would have allowed business owners to cite their religious beliefs when denying service to customers, and critics said it was a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. Now, the pendulum appears to be swinging the other way, with Arizona cities like Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tempe extending discrimination laws to include the gay community.
Now, Glendale could be set to join their ranks as well; the city is considering legislation that would enact a non-discrimination statute that includes protections for genetic characteristics, veteran status, physical and mental disabilities, marital status, and controversially, sexual orientation and gender identification.
At public meetings, the proposed measure has been divisive. Critics say the bill would have a “chilling effect” on small businesses in Glendale, particularly Christian businesses. In several famous cases, bakers and other Christian business owners have been sued for refusing to provide services to same-sex weddings. And with the market for Christian gifts alone estimated to be $4.6 billion a year, such a precedent troubles some American Christians and business owners. People like Bob Richards, a Glendale resident who wrote a strongly worded letter to the editor in Your West Valley, calling the bill “ridiculous.”
“Trying to ‘normalize abnormal behavior’ through social engineering via City Council directives, masking it as a proposed ‘Anti Discrimination Ordinance’ inquiry soliciting citizen feedback discussions, was a joke,” Richards wrote.
But supporters say the bill is not only the right thing to do, but also an essential measure to promote business in Arizona.
“There are restaurants I will never go to again because of the way I feel I was treated,” said Anthony Pritchard of Arrowhead Ranch. “There are a lot of people who feel that way.”