Arizona may lose 2015 Super Bowl if bill to legalise anti-gay discrimination becomes law
The US state of Arizona could run the risk of losing the Super Bowl if a law is enacted to allow business owners to legally discriminate against gay people.
Senate Bill 1062 would prevent the state from taking action against individuals and businesses who refuse services to people or groups based on their religious beliefs if such enforcement would “substantially burden” the free exercise of their religion.
The bill was given final approval by the legislature on Friday, but State Governor Jan Brewer has not said whether she will sign it into law.
Currently Arizona is set to host the Super Bowl, the NFL’s championship game, in 2015. That could all change, however, as SB 1062 breaks the NFL’s nondiscrimination policy.
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today.
“We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
Even the Super Bowl Host committee released a statement condemning the bill.
“On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential,” a committee spokesperson said. “We do not support this legislation.”
Jan Brewer has until Friday to decide on the bill, but is expected to take action sooner.
Because of pressure to do with Arizona’s economy, including the Super Bowl, it is expected that Brewer will veto the bill.
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LGBT rights advocates hope businesses opposed to the bill, and the possibility that Arizona’s economy would suffer as a result of the bill, will push her to veto it.
Apple on Monday became the most recent large business to urge Brewer to veto the bill. It carries extra weight after having signed a $578 million (£346 million) contract with a sapphire-producing company in the state.
In doing so, it joined American Airlines and hotel giant Marriott in urging Arizona’s Government Jan Brewer to use her veto on the bill.
Arizona has a statute that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The state only legalised same-sex sexual activity in 2001.
Mass protests have taken place in the state against the implementation of the bill.