After months of championing anti-gay business owners who refuse service to gay customers because of their religious beliefs, Fox News condemned a proposed Arizona law that would protect businesses that discriminate against gay customers, comparing the measure to “Jim Crow laws.”
During the February 25 edition of America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum invited Fox News contributor Juan Williams and The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros to discuss Arizona's controversial new anti-gay segregation law, SB 1062 which would protect businesses that refuse to serve gay customers on religious grounds. The measure, which awaits Gov. Jan Brewer's signature, has been condemned by a growing number of conservatives and business owners, including three Republicans senators who regret voting for the bill.
MacCallum, Williams, and Tantaros all condemned the measure, with MacCallum and Tantaros both drawing comparisons between the bill and racist “Jim Crow laws” :
TANTAROS: What has happened, Martha, is this has spiraled totally out of control. And so, while the First Amendment is a really strong argument, I don't know why you would want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals.
MACCALLUM: I mean, that's exactly what it sounds like.
TANTAROS: If you're a business owner, I don't know why you'd want to turn business away. And if you're gay, let's say, why would you want the baker of hate baking your cake anyway? Unfortunately, it has taken a really crazy turn and gotten way out of hand. And as Juan mentioned, a number of Republicans, three of them who voted to pass this said that they would change their mind.
MACCALLUM: It sounds like the lunch counter, Juan.
Fox's condemnation of Arizona's anti-gay measure is extremely surprising given the network's prior efforts to champion and celebrate Christian business owners who refused service to gay customers.
As MacCallum mentioned, laws like Arizona's emerged in response to a number of incidents in which anti-gay business owners were penalized for violating non-discrimination laws and turning away gay customers. Those incidents were widely publicized by Fox News, which repeatedly fear mongered about the threat non-discrimination measures posed to the religious freedom of business owners:
MacCallum's segment isn't the first time a Fox News employee has referred to these kinds of anti-gay segregation efforts as “Jim Crow laws.” Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers made a similar point in a February 19 USA Today column, drawing harsh criticism from several of her Fox News colleagues.