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March 2, 2014
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Publisher's Notebook: Arizona lawmakers must have spent far too long in the sun

There are three or four months each year when the average daily temperature in Phoenix soars above 100 degrees.

On a June day in 1990, a record 122 degrees was recorded in that sprawling desert city.

I bring this up as the only possible defense the Arizona Legislature has in its latest effort to make most conservatives look like Chairman Mao.

Fortunately, the state’s constitution still allows the governor a veto power, and Gov. Jan Brewer used that power to block a bill that would have made Arizona look like Mississippi back in the days when blacks were forbidden to eat in most restaurants.

The bill vetoed by Brewer (and why she had to take more than 90 seconds to veto it is still more than a little concerning) would have allowed businesses to deny access to gays and lesbians for religious reasons. In other words, if homosexuality was against a business owner’s religion, he would have a right to deny them access.

Never mind that the law would have had little chance of standing up to a constitutional challenge. I’m pretty sure gays and lesbians still enjoy the same constitutional rights as the rest of us.

You don’t get to cherry pick from the Constitution based on your personal preference. And it’s a little disingenuous to talk about your right to bear arms while advocating a right to discriminate based on sex, or sexuality.

I’d argue that the very foundation of our Constitution prohibits discrimination based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation and religion.

Advocates, ironically, are using that same argument to defend the proposal. They say the Constitution allows religious protections as well, so if homosexuality is against your religion, why shouldn’t you be allowed to keep them out of your store?

That argument gets kind of weak when you look at some of the wacky religions out there. A preacher recently died from a rattlesnake bite in a Southern church that uses rattlesnakes as part of the service, swinging them all over the place while chanting and raising hell.

How do you define religion, anyway? Isn’t it a belief? Should Islamic shop owners be allowed to keep Jews out of their stores? Or vice versa?

Heat stroke is no joke. It doesn’t take much for a 100-plus-degree desert sun to literally fry your brain, especially if you don’t have much hair, or brain to begin with.

There are guys wandering all over that Arizona desert having conversations with themselves as the sun beats down.

“If we let homosexuals into our stores, they might kiss me!”

“No, they won’t. You’re not that good-looking.”

“But what if they start trying on dresses?”

“You don’t sell dresses and, if you did, you’d want somebody to buy one.”

“Yeah, but what if they scare my straight customers away?”

“How are you going to sort out the gay customers from the straight customers? They don’t make a scanner for that.”

“What if I go to hell for selling a milkshake to a lesbian?”

“I’m pretty sure there’s a long list ahead of that one. Remember the time you tied a firecracker to your neighbor’s cat?”

Republicans control the Arizona Legislature, and bills like the one they sent to the governor make it awful tough to be a conservative. The Republican Party has been hijacked by extremists and will never regain the White House until it stops acting crazy.

Hillary Clinton must love the Arizona Legislature.

“Keep it up, boys! You should really consider a bill banning Mexicans. Oh, wait a minute — you already did that. How about the Chinese? Can you ban them maybe in 2016, right before Election Day?”

All of this on top of a far-right Washington lobbyist who is trying to persuade his GOP friends to support a proposal that would ban gay football players from playing in the National Football League.

Never mind the fact that gay players have been playing in the National Football League since maybe the beginning, but didn’t broadcast it.

Most conservatives I know (some of them — hold your ears — gay) are rational people. They are concerned about our nation’s debt and fiscal irresponsibility. They are concerned about foreign policy and our position as a world leader. They are concerned that our government is determined to infiltrate every part of our lives. They are concerned that we are becoming a nation of dumb citizens because our schools are failing to deliver a return on investment. They are concerned that we have created a society of entitled citizens unwilling to put in the effort it takes to get ahead in life.

They are not concerned with gay marriage, abortion or really immigration, beyond the need to somehow control our borders.

My conservative friends are, by and large, pretty normal people.

They are also smart enough to know when to stay out of the sun, a lesson Arizona’s lawmakers apparently are learning the hard way.

• Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or

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The News-Review Updated Mar 3, 2014 01:33AM Published Mar 2, 2014 12:04AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.