Arizona’s “Turn Away the Gay” boycott – Not so fast, George
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything controversial or political here, so I guess it’s about time to address a topic I haven’t expounded upon yet: gay rights. Everyone’s probably aware by now that the legislature in the State of Arizona recently passed SB-1062, which allows business to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
George Takei, one of the most high-profile and vocal spokesmen for the LGBT community, wrote a scathing open letter to Arizona on his blog. In that blog post, Takei basically declared war on Arizona:
“The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.”
“So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.”
I absolutely understand his sentiment. The bill is, indeed, repugnant. It made me want to avoid doing book signings in Arizona. If such a hateful piece of legislation targeted me so directly, I’d be boiling mad, too. But is calling for a boycott really the right answer?
My wife and I own two small businesses in Montana, and our state’s legislature has done some pretty stupid things, too. I’d sure hate to have my business punished for some neanderthal piece of legislation our state passed. Obviously, there are some hateful and bigoted people in Arizona. There are also some really good people there, and they don’t deserve our retaliation.
Target the legislators who voted for this bill! Gather your Arizona comrades and start the recall petitions. Start letter-writing campaigns to their campaign donors. Bury Governor Brewer in letters and emails. Boycott businesses that supported the bill. Fight back with a carefully-targeted campaign, not a nuclear assault that hurts everyone in Arizona — including those who opposed the bill and Arizona’s LGBT residents, too!
So I’d like to say to George Takei that I applaud his sentiment, but his response could be just as dangerous and harmful to Arizona business owners as the anti-gay bill itself is to the LGBT community. In a shaky economy, the loss of a chunk of tourist income could be enough to bankrupt mom ‘n pop businesses — or even pop ‘n pop businesses.
UPDATE: Three of the Republican senators that voted for this bill have changed their minds and written a letter to the Governor asking her to veto it: Bob Worsley (Mesa), Steve Pierce (Prescott), and Senate Majority Whip Adam Driggs (Phoenix).
ANOTHER UPDATE: Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed the bill.