Constitutional Law and Civil Rights

Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill, More Loom Across States

BREWER VETOES ANTI-GAY BILL, MORE LOOM ACROSS STATES: Amidst much hue and cry last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed SB 1062, the highly controversial measure that would have allowed businesses to legally cite their religious beliefs as reason to refuse services to gay, bisexual and transgender residents. But while that would presumably bring the issue to a close in the Grand Canyon State, similar bills or ballot measures are pending or are on the horizon in many more.

Brewer vetoed the measure under intense pressure from its opponents, which included heavyweight business interests like Apple Inc., Intel, American Airlines, Marriot, American Express and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Both of the state's U.S. senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, also urged a veto, as did U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Major League Baseball also weighed in, as did the National Football League. Sports Illustrated reported that the NFL had begun steps to possibly move next year's Super Bowl, scheduled to be played in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, to Tampa.

The bill's author, Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R), filed the measure in response to some businesses in other states being sued for refusing to provide products or services for same-sex couples, saying "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

But in a news conference announcing her veto, Brewer intimated the bill was unnecessary, saying she'd not "heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated." She also referenced the ongoing furor over the bill, saying it "could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want."

While the argument appears over in Arizona, it is just getting started in several other states. Bills are pending in Georgia (HB 1023 and SB 377), Idaho (HB 426 and HB 427), Mississippi (SB 2681), Missouri (SB 916), Ohio (HB 376) and South Dakota (SB 128). Most are currently in committees, but the Mississippi bill has cleared the Senate and is now in the House. Similar measures, however, have failed this year in Kansas (HB 2453), Maine (SB 514) and Tennessee (SB 2566). (STATE NET, NEW YORK TIMES, ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX], CNN.COM)

SOCIAL POLICY: The INDIANA Senate approves HJR 3, a bill that would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the Hoosier State. But lawmakers refused to include a provision that would have banned same-sex civil unions, which was necessary to send the matter before voters this November. Under state law, constitutional amendments must pass two separately-elected legislatures before the public can vote on it. Lawmakers endorsed a marriage ban in 2011 that also included the civil union ban (REUTERS). • A federal judge rules that a TEXAS law barring same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia stayed his ruling pending an appeal by Lone Star State officials (NATIONAL JOURNAL). • The OKLAHOMA House approves HB 2685, which would require abortion providers to notify women whose fetuses have fatal conditions that hospice services are available as an alternative to an abortion. It is now in the Senate (OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY]). • The WEST VIRGINIA House approves HB 4588, which would bar abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is now in the Senate (CHARLESTON GAZETTE). • The SOUTH DAKOTA House approves HB 1162, which would bar abortions for purpose of gender selection. It moves to the Senate (MSNBC.COM).

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

POLITICS IN BRIEF: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend their states' same-sex marriage bans (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR). • U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen struck down the same-sex marriage ban approved by VIRGINIA voters in 2006. But gay marriages will remain forbidden in the state for now because the judge stayed her decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond (WASHINGTON POST).

— Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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