Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rocco DiGrazia: 'Why I Put that Sign in My Pizzeria Window'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM


Posted on last night, an opinion piece from Rocco DiGrazia, owner of Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria, who has undeniably become a bit of a local hero in the fight against SB 1062, with his famous sign being the first to go up when our crazyland lawmakers passed the bill in the name of religious freedom.

You can read the entire piece here, but here's a snippet and an amazing example of why Rocco's deserves our patronage, abrazos and man, he really seems to understand life in our moldy pueblo. Here's a snippet:

As well as hurting small businesses, plenty of large companies have reconsidered locating here, saying, "We'll take our dollars elsewhere." One business owner, reacting to this legislation, even told me: "Arizona is the American Uganda" — where they put gay people in jail. We have so much poverty, terrible roads, some unbelievably bad schools — and this bill is what our legislators wasted their time on.

Many Americans think they know what living on the border is like. But Tucson was long a part of Mexico until the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. Many of our old Indian, Mexican, Chinese and Anglo families here have histories that go back long before Arizona was even a territory of the United States. And as in much of the West, a live-and-let-live philosophy pervades our lives here in a real and tangible way.

This century will be one of expanding civil rights for individuals. But Prohibition, Jim Crow, Indian schools — where they tried to make Native American children abandon their identities — and anti-Chinese immigration laws are not so far in the past that we can safely ignore them. They were wrong, just like discrimination against gay people is wrong.

This legislation was ostensibly trying to protect religious freedom. A lot of Christian groups feel like they're being persecuted by our culture, and that is really what underlies this bill. But if they feel like they're being persecuted, they should try being gay for a little while.

I cannot condone discrimination against one group of people. Regardless of the kind intentions of the lawmakers to the north of Tucson that were trying to make sure I have freedom of religion, I already have it. This bill was gratuitous as well as ridiculous. I can already refuse service to anyone — and that includes any one of those several dozen Arizonans who aren't representing my views in Phoenix.

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