The controversy over and eventual veto
of an anti-gay bill in Arizona appear to have dealt a fatal blow to
similar proposals in other states.
Arizona's bill, known as SB 1062,
created a firestorm of controversy after lawmakers approved it late
last week. Supporters claimed that the bill was needed to protect
religious liberty. But in vetoing the bill, Governor Jan Brewer said
that it does “not address a specific and present concern related to
religious liberty” and that its broad language “could result in
unintended and negative consequences.”
Opponents pointed out that the measure
would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against gay
Just hours before Brewer announced her
veto, state lawmakers in Ohio said that they were tabling their bill.
“The intent of [our bill] was to
ensure Ohioans' religious freedom by protecting their ability to
freely worship and preventing any laws from burdening the free
exercise of religion,” Ohio State Representatives Tim Derickson, a
Repubican, and Bill Patmon, a Democrat, said in a joint statement.
“However, with the controversy that is occurring in Arizona, we
feel that it is the best interest of Ohioans that there be no further
consideration of this legislation.”
In an email to supporters, Citizens for
Community Values Action, the group which put Ohio's gay marriage ban
on the 2004 ballot, criticized the move.
“We were quite disappointed that a
bill that would have merely reiterated Ohioans' First Amendment
rights – the freedom to practice one's sincerely held religious
beliefs without threat of undue punishment by the state or other
citizens – was needlessly withdrawn once 'deeply misleading'
criticism (as law professors called it) surfaced from same-sex
marriage lobby groups,” the group said, referring to a
letter written by 11 professors calling on Brewer to sign SB
As America debated Arizona's bill,
plans for similar bills also unraveled in Indiana, Georgia and
Mississippi. Other states, including Kansas and Tennessee, began
backtracking before SB 1062's passage.
Social conservatives in Oregon are
pursuing a similarly worded ballot initiative.
marriage foes in Oregon want right to discriminate against gays.)