Arizona Goes Rogue

Despite touting a libertarian ethos and gorgeous landscape, the state has become a wasteland for human rights, unsafe for women, LGBTs, and people of color.

BY Victoria A. Brownworth

September 06 2013 4:00 AM ET


Above: Supporters of Arpaio; presidential candidate Gary Johnson at ASU, a “papers please” arrest

Is this the same governor who omitted lesbian and gay couples from the state’s health benefits plan and then argued when the Supreme Court said she was being discriminatory?

Brewer’s popularity — and her single-mindedness — haven’t gone unnoticed. In their June 14 issue, Josh Barro of Business Insider called Brewer “the most interesting politician in America,” suggesting that she “pokes conservatives in the eye” to get what she wants done.

Brewer intends to poke quite a few eyes — notably those of Democrats and third-party candidates like Libertarians. She took another giant step toward restrictive policies on June 19, when she signed an omnibus election law bill, HB 2305, which contains a provision that will dramatically increase the difficulty for members of minor parties to get on their own party’s primary ballot. The bill contains an exceedingly stringent signature requirement for third-party candidates —aimed at, critics claim, restricting third parties completely.

The bill has other provisions that are strongly opposed by the Democratic Party and various voting rights organizations, as well as many Mexican-American leaders and libertarians. It would prevent groups that aid Hispanic voters from collecting an individual’s ballot and dropping it off at a polling place, which is viewed as yet another racist attack from Brewer on Hispanics.

Who will win the war for the heart of Arizona — the rogue extremists like Brewer, or the libertarians like Gary Johnson, one-time Republican and now titular leader of the nation’s Libertarian Party?

Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian candidate for president and former governor of neighboring New Mexico, has made Arizona his new battleground. A supporter of marriage equality, Johnson announced in late June that he would be gathering signatures via his organization, Our America Initiative, to file a state constitutional amendment to overturn Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage. “We want to seize the momentum [the SCOTUS] decision will create, and doing so in Arizona, a ‘conservative’ Western state, will send a message of individual freedom to every corner of the nation.” he said in a statement.

Individual freedom is definitely where Arizona started, but what will it take to lead the state back there once more?


Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and author. She is a frequent contributor to The Advocate and SheWired and is a blogger for the Huffington Post.

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