|Arizona Catholic Conference backed vetoed bill, saying it protected religious freedom|
Catholic News Service photo
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announces her veto of a bill known as S.B. 1062 at the state Capitol in Phoenix Feb. 26. The bill would have allowed businesses and others to refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds. Brewer said concerns prompting th e bill, that religious liberty needs protection, were not unfounded but the measure was "broadly worded," she said, and could result in "unintended consequences."
Catholic News ServicePHOENIX — Protecting religious liberty was the intent of the governor-vetoed measure that would allow "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church or other business entity" to refuse service to anyone if doing so violates one's religious beliefs, the Arizona Catholic Conference argued.
The conference, which is the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, issued an "action alert" asking Catholics to urge Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to sign the measure.
The bishops and other supporters of the measure, labeled "exercise of religion" and passed as S.B. 1062 by the state Senate and as H.B. 2153, would amend Arizona's version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, providing that "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."
Opponents of the bill said it was unconstitutional because it is aimed at denying service to same-sex couples and discriminated against gays and lesbians. If it becomes law, they say it also could be used to discriminate against people on the basis of race.
The bill's sponsors said it was necessary to avoid in Arizona what has happened in other states, like New Mexico, for example, where the state Supreme Court ruled a photographer discriminated against a same-sex couple that sought photo services for their civil commitment ceremony.
A Missouri state senator has introduced similar legislation in that state; in Georgia, like bills are moving through the state House and Senate; and the Republican-led House in Kansas approved such a measure in early February.
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