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UVa Professor Works To Clarify Controversial Arizona Bill

By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email
By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email

February 28, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill "that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people based on religious grounds."

After vetoing the bill Wednesday night, Brewer said she did it because she believes it would have created more problems than it solved.

A University of Virginia law professor and ten of his colleagues wrote a letter to the Arizona governor asking her to re-examine bill, but not for the reasons you would think.

In a letter with the signature of UVa professor Douglas Laycock and other leaders in his field, they explain that it’s not about how they feel about same-sex marriage, or their personal politics.

Laycock says the issue lies in its interpretation.

"It certainly did not authorize discrimination against gay and lesbians…As is often the case there was a kernel of truth and a vast amount of exaggeration."

The bill sparked outrage and widespread criticisms against Arizona. But Laycock says it might have been misplaced.

Their solitary goal is to clear up the confusion about the controversial bill and help Brewer understand what she was signing or vetoing.

"She was getting massive amounts of misinformation."

And how could this misunderstanding happen?

"Because it was in someone's political interest to misinterpret it....this is an area where both sides routinely lie about what the other side is up to. The conservative Christian groups do it and the gay rights groups do it. This was an unusually egregious example but there is nothing new here."

So what's the danger in mischaracterizing the bill? And could it happen again?

“It worked...and people remember and so the folks who did it in Arizona will do it again in other states."

Laycock is not really making a statement for, or against the bill. He just wants to make sure the right information gets out.


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