As a result of cases in other states in which photographers and florists and bakers were sued for declining to provide their services at the weddings of same-sex couples, the thoughtful legislators of Arizona decided that they needed to protect their own citizens who dislike gays from similar lawsuits and both the state house and senate passed laws that said that any business could deny service to anyone, not just gay people, for religious reasons if those beliefs are held ‘sincerely’. The bill is now awaiting the signature of Arizona governor Jan Brewer. If she does not veto it by Friday, it becomes law.
But things have started to change. Both the state’s Republican US senators have called upon the governor to veto the bill and some of the legislators who voted for the bill have now said that they regretted doing so and would like to reverse course and are urging the governor to veto the bill they voted for.
It would be nice to think that all this second-guessing is due to people realizing that being anti-gay is no longer acceptable. But that is likely not what happened. What has happened is that the business community is alarmed that such a law would result in people boycotting the state and harm its tourism industry and other business interests. Next year’s Super Bowl is also being held in Arizona and the thought that there could be a replay of the controversy over Russia’s anti-gay laws at the Sochi games in Phoenix could not have been pleasant to contemplate. It has even been suggested that the venue be shifted out of state if the law is signed.
The Arizona bill was outrageous from the start. But not outrageous enough for some people because there is now a report that a congressional lobbyist, alarmed by the prospect of Michael Sam being drafted by a team in the NFL, is drafting a bill that would ban gay players from the NFL. Such a bill, if actually brought up in congress, would be the Republican party’s worst nightmare. They could not vote for it without cementing the view that they are hateful bigots and they cannot vote against it without alienating the crazies whom they depend upon.
I predict the bill will be buried in committee and never see the light of day.