State’s Mirror Arizona’s Anti-Gay Discrimination Bill
Though Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the highly controversial SB 1062, the anti-gay legislation that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers if they cite their religious beliefs, Wednesday, lawmakers from around the country are considering legislation that is similar to the anti-gay discrimination bill.
Jay Michaelson of Political Research Associates, a progressive political think tank, told CNN that Missouri and Georgia are "right behind" Arizona, regarding measures that would discriminate against the LGBT community.
In Georgia, the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act has been introduced to the state’s Legislature and mirrors Arizona’s bill. It is currently moving through the Georgia House of Representatives and would permit private companies to override state laws that "directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies" a person’s religious beliefs. Parts of the state have enacted anti-discrimination laws the protect people based on sexual orientation.
There’s also been a similar bill introduced in the state Senate, CNN reports, and like Arizona’s measure, the bills do not specifically mention LGBT people. Thankfully, the measure did not appear on the calendar for Monday, the last day for legislation to pass the chamber it was introduced in and transfer to the next chamber for consideration. Jeff Graham, the director of LGBT rights group Georgia Equality Executive, told CNN that the proposal still has a chance of popping up on Monday.
Republican state Sen. Wayne Wallingford of Missouri introduced SB 916 this week that would require "the government to show a compelling interest in any attempt to restrict a person’s right to practice religion," CNN writes. The measure extends civil protections to the Missouri’s "Religious Freedom Restorations Act," Wallingford noted. Those opposing the bill, however, say it will discriminate against LGBT people.
There are currently two bills being considered in Idaho: HB 426, which would protect people who make decisions based on their religious beliefs, like denying service to people, and HB 427, which protects people against legal claims against them in cases regarding religious convictions. HB 427 has been sent back to committee.
Mississippi is considering a similar bill (SB 2681) that would also protect people based on religious convictions, which may lead to discrimination against gay people. The same goes for Ohio, which introduced HB 376 in December. Like Arizona’s measure, Ohio’s bill doesn’t mention gay people.
In Oregon, an anti-gay marriage group called Oregon Family Council is sponsoring the "Protect Religious Freedoms Initiative," which would discriminate against LGBT people in the same vein as Arizona’s measure. The group supported the state’s ban on gay marriage and is hoping to get the measure on the November ballot.
South Dakota’s conservative senators introduced a bill that would allow businesses or people to refuse "certain wedding services or goods due to the free exercise of religion." The measure’s main sponsor, withdrew it however. Nevertheless the state has a second legislation that protects "speech pertaining to views on sexual orientation."
Colorado also has a copycat SB 1062, as does Maine.
Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill earlier this month, much more explicit than the other measures passed in the states mentioned: the "Turn the Gays Away Bill." It was withdrawn, however, from committee.
Utah’s Republican state Sen. Stuart Reid introduced a bill that echoes Arizona’s now defunct measure but it was nixed.