888 4 GAY NEWS or 888-442-9639

Decision time: Did Arizona governor veto controversial "religious freedom" bill?

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer late this afternoon announced that she is vetoing the controversial SB 1062 "religious freedom" bill that actually would have legalized discrimination against gay couples in Arizona based on one's religious beliefs.

Brewer faced enormous pressure from all corners calling for a veto: national and international companies doing business in Arizona; the NFL, which could have pulled the 2015 Super Bowl out of Phoenix; Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association; Democrats and even some Republicans who voted for the bill; LGBT and human rights campaigners; the state's two Republican U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake; even Mitt Romney.

SB 1062 -- and other anti-gay bills similar to it -- is the brainchild of the notorious group called the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which calls itself a "Christian" legal ministry. ADF is anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-nonChristians. It wants to convert the United States and other countries to its harsh theocratic worldview, and is generously funded by the Religious Right and a roster of homophobic organizations and supporters.

SDGLN wrote an expose about "The puppet master behind anti-gay 'religious freedom' bill" in today's online edition.

The Arizona bill, SB 1062, would have allowed Arizona businesses to invoke their religious beliefs as an excuse to deny providing services to gay and lesbian customers. Critics said the bill's language violated the U.S. Constitution by embracing discrimination against a minority group and was attempting to provide legal cover for blatant bigotry.

Similar bills have been introduced in other red states, and almost all of them have been rejected. The Kansas House passed a similar bill, but it didn't even get heard by the Senate. South Dakota, Tennessee and Ohio lawmakers failed to get similar bills out of committee. But anti-gay bills linger in other states, including Mississippi and Missouri.

And Arizona is not done. Lawmakers want to pass HB 2481, which would redefine the role of a "minister" to include any official who presides over weddings. This is considered a preemptive strike in case gay marriage ever comes to Arizona, so HB 2481 would allow any "minister" to decline to officiate at weddings of gay and lesbian couples if their "sincerely held religious beliefs" conflict with the law.