Folks, we have been pretty impressed with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has been acting uncharacteristically sanelike lately. Maybe she was actually sane all along, and then she drank some Tea Party Wacky Juice? In any case, she keeps doing reasonable stuff, like vetoing that horrible Please Discriminate Against Gays bill back in February, and recognizing that it would be a real stretch of the state constitution to try to seek another term. And now, she’s actually sounding a bit like late-career Barry Goldwater, who famously said he didn’t care whether people were gay, and told the Moral Majority it could go get stuffed, and all sorts of fun stuff, because goddammit, there’s getting reelected and there’s being right. And so, in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times Tuesday, Brewer said that it might darn well be time to think about extending Arizona’s civil rights protections to everybody, even, yes, gay people.
And while this is of course a “Well, duh” proposition for raving liberal weenies like Yr Wonkette, you have to remember that, coming from Jan Brewer, who used to go around sticking her finger in the President’s face, this feels like a Big Fucking Deal. Sure, it’ll have all the practical effect of that time when Gerald Ford said, during his last month in office, that we oughta make Puerto Rico a state, but still, she is Contributing to the Dialogue.
Brewer’s comments follow up on her description of the terrible SB 1062 law, which she said at the time of her veto was pointless, because Arizona was already not protecting gays’ rights:
“SB1062 does not address specific and present concern related to religious liberties in Arizona,” she said in prepared comments. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where business owners’ religious liberty has been violated.”
But Brewer also acknowledged that the legislation was unnecessary for a much simpler reason: It’s already legal to refuse to rent to or serve gays in Arizona.
And now she’s open to considering protecting LGBT people from discrimination, as long as there’s evidence that that’s a problem (yes, yes, we all know it is. Baby steps, folks.):
“If it needs to be addressed, it needs to be debated in the Legislature,” Brewer said.
“Testimony needs to be presented,” she continued. “Let the representatives of the people who have been elected by the populace of the state of Arizona determine and get it up to the governor.”
And what would she do with it?
“I don’t know what would be in that bill or how they would write it,” Brewer said. “But I certainly would evaluate it and do what I thought was the right thing to do for the state.”
This is not to say that Jan Brewer has suddenly put a rainbow flag magnet on the back of her very own Subaru Legacy wagon or anything; this is, after all, the woman who signed into law a 2009 law rescinding benefits for the unmarried domestic partners of state and university employees. That law is being challenged in the courts, and U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick has ruled that the state can’t stop the benefits while the case moves forward.
So this is not exactly a come-to-Judy-Garland moment for Brewer — she’s cautiously willing to consider changes, not jumping in and saying Arizona is now Massachusetts on the Agua Fria. But it’s a hell of a lot better than what we’ve heard out of a lot of Republican governors, and a huge difference from the days when she was clearly on the Michele Bachmann gay-hatin’ bandwagon. Let’s all send her kind words of encouragement, perhaps in envelopes with Harvey Milk stamps.
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