Touchdown: The NFL Saves Arizona From Itself
One can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this week. Never one to embrace logic, she was presented with a bill that a logical person would simply reject. Instead of immediately rejecting Senate Bill 1062 - which would have allowed any business, church or person to refuse to do business with or serve a gay person - she took her time and considered all the arguments. She finally vetoed the bill at the end of the day on Wednesday.
The bill was touted as a protection of religious freedom, but what it means is this: you can be refused service at an Arizona restaurant if the owner’s religion means he doesn’t like your religion, your sexual orientation, your mixed-faith or mixed-race marriage.
What the bill’s proponents didn’t expect was their misguided expression of their religion coming square up against the national religion - NFL football. The NFL, who will most likely welcome its first openly gay player this fall, made it crystal clear that if this bill passed, they would find a new home for the 2015 Super Bowl, which was scheduled for Arizona.
It’s one thing to pass a vile antigay law; but you take offense to a totally different level when the NFL threatens to pull the Super Bowl.
The NFL was not alone. The business community and lawmakers - the NFL, Apple, Marriott Hotels, American Airlines, Yelp, both Arizona senators - urged Brewer to reject the bill. Even former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney tweeted Brewer: ".@GovBrewer: veto of #SB1062 is right."
The good people of Arizona will no doubt want to put this episode behind them. Perhaps they will consider minimum IQ requirements or standardized test scores for their lawmakers. Senate Bill 1062 was vague, unneeded and redundant. Even without the law, Arizona does not include protections for LGBT people in its public accommodations protections, so technically, gays can already be refused service.
And religious institutions are already protected - no church or temple will be forced to perform marriages for gay couples or divorced couples if their faith opposes it.
So while we congratulate Brewer for having some sense, we should take pause to note that LGBT citizens should be added to Arizona’s public accommodations.
And before you get all smug, Massachusetts doesn’t include transgender people in our public accommodations, which means a business can be sued for not hiring a transgender person, but can deny a transgender person service.
There’s work to be done, but for now, may God bless the NFL.
Sue O’Connell is the co-publisher of Bay Windows and the South End News