Amid mounting pressure from gay rights activists, major corporations, constituents, and even fellow Republicans, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062—a bill variously understood as a protection of religious liberty or Arizona’s own “gay segregation” measure—on Wednesday evening. As Outward’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote on Tuesday, the bill would have had disastrous consequences as business owners and even individual employees found themselves free to refuse service to gay people, especially at lucrative events like the 2015 Super Bowl currently scheduled to take place in the state:
Should the anti-gay bill become law, any stadium employee—from a parking lot attendant to a hot dog vendor—could demand to know a spectator’s orientation and deny him service if he’s gay. A ticket-taker could screen all fans at the gate and refuse the gay ones entry. And due to the breathtaking breadth of the law, the NFL could do absolutely nothing to stop it. Every employee would have a right to turn away gay people, and no employer would be legally permitted to demand equal treatment of all customers.
The backlash against bills of this sort in states across the country has been surprisingly (and hearteningly) swift, with similar measures fizzling out in Kansas and Idaho in recent weeks. Indeed, in this case, state legislators responsible for sending SB1062 to Brewer’s desk last Thursday actually joined Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in calling for the veto on Tuesday. While it would be nice to believe this change of heart was due to the sudden growth of one, it’s clear that the threat of boycotts and warnings from the likes of Apple, American Airlines, and Marriott—not to mention the NFL—were the main causes.
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