The LGBT blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Arizona has become the first legislature to attempt to codify anti-LGBT discrimination in public accommodations into law under the guise of expanding religious liberty.
The New York Times reported the news thusly:
PHOENIX — The Arizona Legislature passed a measure on Thursday that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an embarrassment.
The 33-to-27 vote by the House sent the legislation to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican.
Governor Brewer does not comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it was not clear whether she would support this plan.
Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Kansas, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that has passed. The efforts are stalled in Idaho, Ohio and Kansas.It should be noted that Phoenix, the nation's 6th largest city, only enacted an LGBT rights ordinance last year and that if this measure becomes law all someone would have to say is that the have a "sincerely held religious belief" to justify denying service to LGBT people in Phoenix or anywhere in the state.
I think if Governor Brewer actually signs the bill into law, the boycotts that Arizona saw over the passage of the xenophobic SB 1070 will pale in comparison what will happen soon as news about homophobic segregation becomes more well-known. SB 1070 was eventually struck down by the United States Supreme Court. I wonder how quickly Arizona will be in court, especially since that state is in the 9th circuit, where laws that classify based on sexual orientation receive heightened scrutiny which means that such laws need to demonstrate that they are directly related to an important governmental interest. I doubt that "we want to discriminate against gays because our God tells us so" will be a sufficient reason!