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Arizona Gov. Brewer criticizes so-called anti-gay bill, vetoes it

By Cindy Carcamo

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 7:19 a.m. MST

Technically, the bill would have expanded the definition of the free exercise of religion, allowing a faithful person to adhere to his or her beliefs in practice. It would have also expanded the definition of “person” to include any business, association and corporation.

Arizona’s bill was similar to proposals in other states, including ones that failed in Kansas and Idaho.

The legislation came on the heels of two cases in which state courts elsewhere sided with gay couples in wedding-related lawsuits.

In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to photograph their commitment ceremony. In Colorado, a state judge ruled against a baker who had refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.

Even though SB 1062 was vetoed, similar bills may be coming down the pipeline affecting the gay community, said state Rep. Demion Clinco, a Democrat from Tucson.

Clinco, who is the only openly gay representative in the House, said the failed legislation is part of a series of “preemptive bills” in anticipation of same-sex marriage possibly being allowed in Arizona.

The House may vote as early as this week on a bill that would expand the definition of minister to include various officials who may preside at weddings, such as judges and justices of the peace.

HB 2481 would allow them to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“I think it’s just part of this climate of attacks on the LGBTQ community,” Clinco said. “Ultimately it creates opportunities for discrimination under the guise of religion.”

©2014 Los Angeles Times. Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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