The furor over an Arizona bill that would allow the denial of business services to gays is "a little bit of exaggerated outrage," political journalist and conservative columnist John Fund said Wednesday.
During a panel discussion with political commentator and Democratic Party activist Christopher Hahn on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, Fund predicted Gov. Jan Brewer will veto the bill, calling it "an example of how economic power, especially the power of a potential boycott, can influence public officials."
"Arizona is very important for conventions and for tourism and for everything else and for that reason alone, I suspect that Gov. Brewer's deciding not to fight this battle at this time and she will veto," he said.
Hahn agreed, but said the bill was "trying to bring back Jim Crow to this generation."
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Fund pointed out, however, that both President Obama and Vice President Biden two years ago publicly stated their opposition to gay marriage, and said the controversy over the Arizona bill is not so different.
"What I was hearing from the gay marriage advocates is it was a fundamental human right," he said. "Is it really that different and is it really going back to the 1930s when you have a position that was put into law by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s with the Defense of Marriage Act which President Obama and Vice President Biden were supporting only two years ago?
"How retrograde is it really and aren't we expressing a little bit of, shall we say, exaggerated outrage...?"
"This is far beyond marriage equality," Hahn countered. "This is public accommodation. This is stuff that we decided in the '50s in the Supreme Court when it came to denying African Americans and others the same public accommodations as whites."
But Fund rejected that reasoning, citing a New Mexico portrait business that didn't want to photograph a gay wedding.
"That's not a public accommodation," Fund pointed out. "This is a small businesswoman with a small photography business. Should she be considered someone who has to be forced to [serve gay clients] because of the objection to her religious principles? ... It's a First Amendment issue."
Hahn insisted businesses open to the public "should not be allowed to discriminate."
"Would she be allowed to deny an accommodation to an African American wedding or an Asian wedding?" Hahn asked. "No, this is the same thing and it should be treated as such and the people who put forth this bill are bigots. Plain and simple."
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