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Arizona inmate doesn’t die until two hours after execution begins

Governor Brewer orders investigation, but says death was ‘lawful;’ lawyers said he was ‘gasping and snorting’ for over an hour

prisonerA convicted murderer who was sentenced to death died nearly two hours after his execution by lethal injection began Wednesday, Arizona officials said. The state’s Gov. Jan Brewer ordered an investigation, but issued a statement saying Joseph Rudolph Wood was executed in a “lawful manner” and apparently “did not suffer.”

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American Airlines, Marriott Urge Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Bill

Marriott Hotels and American Airlines have both written letters to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) requesting that she veto the pending anti-gay legislation SB 1062. The bill, which passed both houses of the state legislature last week, would allow businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples on the grounds of “religious freedom.”

BuzzFeed legal editor Chris Geidner tweeted what he said was a copy of Marriott’s letter Monday. In the letter, the hotel chain said the law would have “profound negative impacts” both on hotels operating in Arizona and the state’s economy as a whole. Marriott did not immediately return The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.

Breaking: @Marriott urges AZ Gov. Brewer to veto #SB1062.

— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) February 24, 2014

American Airlines sent a separate letter Monday expressing similar sentiments. If enacted, the airline said, the law would “jeopardize” Arizona’s economic recovery by “reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona.”

Brewer has until next Friday to decide whether or not she will veto the bill.

news article by Harry Bradford with the Huffington Post

George Takei’s Defiant Response to Arizona as State Passes the ‘Turn Away the Gays’ Bill

Openly gay former Star Trek and Heroes actor, and social media behemoth George Takei has written an open letter to Arizona legislators who have passed a law allowing businesses the right to refuse to serve people on the basis of their presumed sexuality.

George Takei has millions of social media followers.

George Takei has millions of social media followers.

This, from CNN, reporting on the passing of the bill last night:

The bill, which the state House of Representatives passed by a 33-27 vote Thursday, now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and onetime small business owner who vetoed similar legislation last year but has expressed the right of business owners to deny service.

“I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with,” Brewer told CNN in Washington on Friday. “But I don’t know that it needs to be statutory. In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested. That’s America. That’s freedom.”

The law is designed to by pass citizen’s constitutional right to equal provision of good and services, guaranteed under the Civil Rights Act – which has protected LGBT people from such discrimination in recent cases such as that of the bakery owner who refused to bake a cake for a same sex marriage.

Condemnation of the regressive and discriminatory law which has been likened to the Jim Crow laws that segregated non-whites from whites in public spaces in the 1950′s – when African Americans were barred from ‘white’ stores, libraries, schools, parks, hospitals, restaurants, hotels and other spaces.

George Takei, who has over 6 million Facebook followers, and more than a million twitter followers, is now turning his vast social media influence on the State of Arizona.  In a furious letter which condemns the bigoted bill, Takei promises a full programme of boycott actions against the State and it’s businesses if the law is implemented. Here is the letter in full.

Dear Arizona,

Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.

Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.

But not you, Arizona. You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects “religious freedom,” but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used “God’s Will” as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.

This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.

The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.

So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.

And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.

So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.

George Takei

We salute the actions of Takei and all those inside and outside of Arizona fighting this awful law.  In the words of Desmond Tutu:  “If you are silent neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Opinion: Suppose Amazon Decided Not to Sell to Anyone Who Had an Abortion?

Suppose Amazon Decided Not to Sell to Anyone Who Had an Abortion? by Judge H. Lee Sarokin, Retired federal judge

Suppose McDonald’s would not serve anyone who had been divorced? Suppose Walmart would not hire any mothers who had a child born out of wedlock? Suppose hospitals would not treat anyone who used contraception? And most important, should states protect such conduct through legislation? The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, is considering legislation that would allow business owners to cite religious beliefs as a legal justification for denying service to same-sex couples. (N.Y.Times 2/22/14)

We generally recognize that businesses have the right to choose with whom they deal. They can refuse for a variety of reasons — all of which would be recognizable and acceptable. But a conflict arises when assertion of religious reasons results in discrimination and deprives persons of goods or services otherwise available to the general public. In its purest form, the Arizona legislation and others like it are declaring that a business can refuse to deal with a customer because their religious beliefs differ. The questions posed above hopefully demonstrate what a slippery slope this would be. Would religious opposition to homosexuality (apart from same-sex marriage) be sufficient to refuse to do business with all gay persons?

The headline of the Times article reads: “Religious Right Cheers a Bill Allowing Refusal to Serve Gays.” While the religious right cheers, the rest of the country should be moaning. Those who choose not to do business with gays because of their religious beliefs (or their bigotry) should be free to do so and be prepared to suffer the consequences if their conduct is deemed to be unlawful. However, for the state to encourage, codify and memorialize such discrimination is a disgrace. I marvel at those who receive special immunity from lawmakers: the gun industry, the stand-your-ground shooter and now those who discriminate against gays.

When your religious belief keeps you from making a cake for or taking a picture of two happy people, maybe it’s the belief that needs changing — not the legislation.

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