Veto of Religious Freedom Bill Makes Others Less Likely to Pass

Image: Veto of Religious Freedom Bill Makes Others Less Likely to Pass

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 09:27 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a religious freedom bill will make it tougher for similar legislation in other states to get passed,  supporters and opponents say.

Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, and Oklahoma all have similar measures that have been introduced in their state legislatures that would allow businesses to deny services to customers for religious reasons. But supporters and opponents of such measures say that because of the Arizona outcome, they are doubtful they will ever become law, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"I'm not optimistic," said Republican Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon and author of the measure in his state. "I'm concerned that the hysteria and misinformation over this issue in general, and specifically what happened in Arizona, is going to make it more difficult to get this to the floor so we can have a debate."

Legislators in Georgia, like those in Arizona, face pressure from businesses. Delta Air Lines Inc. and hotel company IHG, which owns and operates Holiday Inn and other hotels, have issued statements against the measure in the Peach State, the Journal said.

Supporters of the measure in Missouri are trying to figure out if they can get support for their bill in light of Brewer's veto.

"We're going to work on developing some type of strategy and we're asking, 'Is what happened to Arizona going to happen here?'" Kerry Messer, founder of the Missouri Family Network and supporter of the bill, told the Journal.

Opponents of the measures, who argue that the bills would allow businesses and employees to discriminate against gays and lesbians, say that the defeat of the Arizona bill is motivation for them to keep fighting similar measures in other states.

Similar bills in Ohio, Hawaii, Kansas, Idaho, Maine, South Dakota, and Tennessee were tabled, pulled, voted down or simply ignored, The Huffington Post reported. 

Oregon voters will likely get a chance to decide on the religious freedom measure in November as a ballot initiative once opponents and supporters decide on the 15-word title it will be given, according to The Huffington Post.

Christopher Lund, law professor from Wayne State University in Detroit, told the Journal that even if all the measures fail, it does not end the debate, and the "courts will still have to figure it out on their own" if religious claims by businesses constitute discrimination.

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