Despite the fact that in the Arizona legislature, you might believe otherwise.
The Arizona legislature is kind of like the state’s id. It routinely charges into battle without a plan, a map of the enemy territory, or the thought of logistical support. This goes for the right and left wings; thoughtful statesmen are quickly drummed out or drafted to a better gig. Legislators only earn $24K a year, so the role attracts passionate partisans with ample free time.
As I’ve mentioned before, Gov. Jan Brewer has never been the ideological firebrand portrayed by the national media. She is a cautious moderate who takes seriously the advice of her business-connected advisers.
Although the First Amendment should be enough, legislators wanted to avoid the rare abuses seen in other states in which Christian vendors were punished for choosing not to tacitly condone same-sex marriages. That little nugget was all leftist activists and the media (but I repeat myself) needed to rebrand religious freedom as The Neo-confederate Homophobe Jim Crow H8 Act of 2014.
I agreed with the bill’s modest intentions, but, like many, was concerned about abuses and unintended consequences. With or without a new law, this matter will be fought in the courts and superseded by federal law anyway. Not to mention that Gov. Brewer vetoed it the previous year and was almost guaranteed to veto it again. After the expensive PR mess of SB 1070, the last thing her "Arizona Comeback" needed was another year of headlines decrying us as intolerant rubes.
But the legislature pushed it through anyway. And, despite a famously media-savvy opposition, the lawmakers had no P.R. plan, a negligible online presence and woefully unprepared spokesmen. As most who voted for it hid from the press, the most prominent supporter looked like the cardboard God-bothering hick in every Aaron Sorkin dramedy. Each interview further demonized the bill in the public’s eye.
Predictably, GOP officials across Arizona and the nation fled the unforced error, urging a quick veto. After further damaging the state’s image by dragging out her obvious decision, Gov. Brewer finally nixed the measure last night.
Final score: The Right 0, The Left 1,062.
In a doomed effort on a superfluous bill, Arizona legislators created a political disaster for themselves, short-term damage to the business community, massive fundraising and PR victories for the Left, and a national black eye for social conservatives. Not to mention a lovely media distraction from Obamacare. The only Republican happy about SB 1062 is Chris Christie who could finally give his press office a week’s rest.