Protestors fight back against bill
“VE-TO! VE-TO!” This was the battle cry chanted by supporters of the LGBT community last Friday afternoon as they marched down Fourth Avenue to Gov. Jan Brewer’s office on Congress Street.
Their mission was to convince the Arizona governor to stop Senate Bill 1062 from being signed into state law. On Feb. 19, the piece of legislation passed through the state Senate with a 17-13 vote, with most Republicans in the majority.
The bill is gaining attention due to the power it grants business owners to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to not serve a person whose lifestyle may conflict with their faith. The LGBT community immediately denounced the legislation as being blatantly discriminatory.
Wingspan, a local nonprofit center for the LGBT community, responded quickly to the bill by hosting a protest march for those who oppose the legislation. It posted about the event on Facebook early Friday afternoon, and by 4 p.m., it had gathered a hefty crowd outside its headquarters on Seventh Street.
Before the march began, a series of speakers addressed the crowd, voicing their concerns over the bill. Wingspan Executive Director Carol Grimsby read aloud a letter sent by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who stated his opposition to the bill.
“Bills like 1062 would take our state backwards,” Rothschild said in the letter. “Not only is it
offensive, but it will cause significant economic harm to our state.”
State representatives who voted against the bill were also present at the protest, and voiced concerns about the harmful effect S.B. 1062 could have on the state’s economy.
“The business community heard you, and we are with you,” said Rep. Ethan Orr (R-District 9). Of the 27 state representatives who voted against the bill on Feb. 20, Orr was one of three Republicans who were in this minority.
An openly gay business owner addressed the crowd and stated that everyone should boycott businesses that support this legislation. The crowd responded with a cheer, and soon all dispersed into the streets, with a police escort trailing behind.
Lanay Lindsey was among the young people in the crowd. As a volunteer at the Wingspan center, she has protested against other laws that could potentially harm the LGBT population. Last year, she and other Wingspan associates banded together to fight S.B. 1045, more notoriously known as the “Bathroom Bill.”
“I think the overall goal is to get attention,” Lindsay said. Many young protestors drew stares from onlookers on Fourth Avenue, as some came dressed in rainbow-printed superhero capes.
The protest was headed by people carrying a large banner with the message “Bash Back” spray-painted across it.
As S.B. 1062 waits on Brewer’s desk, the Wingspan center continues seeking support by asking citizens to call Brewer’s office declaring their opposition to the bill. The governor said that she plans to make a decision on whether to sign or veto the bill by this Friday.