Big business isn’t clapping
In case you missed it, last week the Arizona state House and Senate passed Senate Bill 1062, a law ostensibly promoting religious freedom that would allow businesses to deny service to basically any type of customer (read: gay) as long as they could claim that said service “substantially burdens their exercise of religion”. Tricky language, that.
Certain smart businesses have used the law as an opportunity to win attention and now several far bigger names including Apple, Marriott and American Airlines have weighed in, urging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill.
Apple didn’t just sign a letter along with 82 other businesses—Brewer’s spokesperson confirmed that someone from the company actually called her this week, while Marriott and American Airlines independently wrote letters explaining why the legislation would hurt their bottom lines. John McCain said “This is going to hurt the state of Arizona’s economy and, frankly, our image”. See, he gets it. So, apparently, do the three Republican state senators who wrote their own letter urging veto and claiming that their votes to support the bill were “a mistake.”
Some even theorize that the NFL might yank the next Super Bowl out from under Arizona’s nose; it happened once before in 1992 when the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day. For the record, the NFL has only said that it is “against discrimination” and that it will be watching the bill closely. The league’s refusal to comment on whether it might move the game to another state if the bill passes says it all.
While the supposed purpose of the law is to protect Christian business owners from lawsuits like the one filed against the baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, pretty much every political commentor weighed in on the “slippery slope”: these business owners could theoretically refuse to serve almost anyone.
We do wish that the Republicans now turning against the bill would base their decisions on the fact that it’s directly discriminatory rather than the fact that it might be bad for business, but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we?
At any rate, this case is a good example of ways in which businesses can affect political change beyond that shady practice called “lobbying.”
Oh, and it’s great PR too. But you knew that.