Civil Liberties

Gov. Brewer Vetoes Arizona SB 1062

No religious exemption to deny public accommodations


A sort-of victory.
Credit: Datchler / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer just announced that she has vetoed Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed a special, additional religious exemption to the state's public accommodation laws, meaning businesses and individuals could decline to provide goods and services to customers on the basis of religious objections. Though the bill didn't directly mention gays and lesbians, it was widely known to be a response to lawsuits or complaints filed in other states against bakers and photographers that declined to provide services to gay weddings due to religious objections.

Arizona, however, doesn't include sexual orientation in its state public accommodation laws, so citizens don't actually have to justify not wanting to serve gay people. Brewer pointed to the vague wording of the law as a problem, believing it "has the potential to create more problems than it solves."

My own personal, cynical theory is that somebody started realizing it would allow Muslim-owned businesses to refuse to serve women who weren't accompanied by men or not dressed "modestly" and then there will be panic about Shariah Law or something. I was actually kind of secretly hoping that would happen because it would have been hilarious.

Anyway, this particular battle is over and I suspect much celebration in the lesbian and gay community, even though, as I pointed out, they still don't have any state protection from business discrimination. It would not be a surprise, though, if this fight were used to push forward an addition to the state's public accommodation laws.