“Visit Arizona! Well, not if you’re gay or Mexican…”

Demonstrators react to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto the state’s recent “religious freedom” bill. (Photo Courtesy of azstarnet.com)

Arizona has made national headlines recently for trying to pass a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians on the basis of religious beliefs. Luckily, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) went against her own party’s bill and vetoed the potential segregating law. During her Wednesday night news conference Governor Brewer defended her decision by saying, “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.” Brewer went on to comment how disappointed she was in her party’s priorities, considering this was the first piece of legislation that has made it to her desk this year. If this law passed, it would be reminiscent of the hateful Jim Crow laws that plagued our country for almost a century, which allowed business owners to deny service solely based on race.

This isn’t the only time Arizona has been in hot water over its state legislation. In 2010, the state passed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, which would allow police officers to use racial profiling under the pretense of suspicion towards a person’s immigration status. Under the law, an officer under “lawful contact” not specific to any illegal activity could ask a person for their immigration status. This law is the first of its kind in the United States, and hopefully the last. A country that was founded by immigrants and that prides itself on diversity can’t afford to draw lines between race and sexual orientation.

Racism and segregation are no strangers to the fabric of America. Slavery, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and FDR’s internment camps are just some examples of discrimination that has afflicted our culture. The Declaration of Independence declares, “…all men are created equal.” Maybe it’s time for us to actually live by those words. If you go to Arizona’s website, the words “Discover Arizona” appear on the homepage. Unfortunately, the discovering part seems only to be left to those deemed fit by the State of Arizona.

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