To say it’s been a chaotic week in Arizona is putting it mildly. The surprise passage of SB 1062 (A.K.A The “Turn Away the Gays Bill”) by Arizona Legislature came as a shock to the LGBT community and left us all dazed and confused… At first. Shock turned to fear which quickly turned to anger. How could this happen in the United States? In 2014?! It didn’t take long for the good people of Arizona to start fighting back.
It started out small, with Facebook posts quickly spreading the news and eliciting reactions of disbelief and disgust from the community. Then there was the sign that was seen around the world… Rocco DiGrazia, owner of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza in Tucson said he was appalled that the bill had passed through both the Arizona Senate and House. After he posted his feelings about the bill on the restaurant’s Facebook page, a follower turned his words into a sign. The pizza lover hit print, laminated the sign that reads “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators”, and placed it front and center in his restaurant’s window. The sign quickly went viral, summing up the frustration that many groups in the state feel about Arizona policy makers. Since then, his message has gotten thousands of “likes” and customers are waiting in line for a chance to eat some deep dish and show their support.
On Friday, the day after the Arizona House passed SB 1062/HB 2153, Facebook exploded with “Action Alert” posts urging people to call Governor Janet Brewer’s office and tell her to veto the bill. Facebook events were created and shared to let people know there would be a Peaceful Mobilization at the State Capitol Building that evening. Hundreds of people fought rush hour traffic to make it to the event and let their voices be heard. Local and National news crews arrived in droves to record and report the demonstration. Live coverage appeared on stations such as CNN, giving national attention to the event and SB 1062. The next large protest took place on Monday, 24th and drew a much larger crowd.
On Wednesday, February 26, 2014 Governor Brewer vetoed SB 1062 stating that she made the decision she knew was right for Arizona.
“I call them as I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd,” Brewer said, criticizing what she described as a “broadly worded” bill that “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
“To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before.
” Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” she said. “However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.
“Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”
Her announcement spurred cheering and hugs by protesters of the bill outside the state Capitol in Phoenix.
Banners urging Brewer to veto the bill were quickly swapped for signs praising her decision.
“Thank you Governor Brewer,” they said. ” Arizona is open for business to everyone!”