A bill passed by both the Arizona House and Senate that would allow businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers will either become law, or be vetoed by the governor, by Friday. The NFL, which plans to hold the 2015 Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium, is watching very closely.
SB 1062, an amendment to the Orwellianly named Religious Freedom Restoration Act, would expand that law proscribing the "substantially burden[ing]" of individuals' exercise of religion. Under the amendment, the same protections would be extended to private businesses, and allow religious freedom as a defense even in lawsuits not involving the government. Critics have pointed to the most likely (and intended) outcome of the law being businesses' right to refuse service to gay and transgendered people based on their religious beliefs, but it would also provide protection to a company wishing to exclude, say, women, Muslims, or even, yes, Christians.
So, it's pretty fucked up. The NFL appears to think so too. In response to questions of whether it would move Super Bowl XLIX if the bill becomes law, the league released this statement:
"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard. 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."
The Super Bowl has been taken away from a host just once in its 49-year history—the 1993 game was moved from Arizona after residents voted against recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
National and local businesses have been petitioning Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062 on the grounds that it will drive business out of the state. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has been especially vocal in its opposition.
Brewer has until Feb. 28 to veto the bill. If she signs it, or if she does nothing, it will become law.