“We said this is exactly what is going to happen,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. “You have a bill here that’s so toxic it’s going to divide this Legislature. It’s going to be polarizing the entire state. And that’s exactly what happened.”…

The Senate sponsor, Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, defended the proposal and said his efforts were intended to extend the state’s religious freedom law’s reach to corporations and allow those sued for discrimination to cite the law even when the government isn’t a party. He said a veto would be disappointing.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing for the state in the sense that I believe the First Amendment means what is says about the free exercise of religion. It’s the first freedom in the First Amendment. It’s there for a reason,” Yarbrough said Tuesday. “And I think we need to take steps to implement that in a meaningful fashion.”…

Meanwhile, the bill has brought increasing talk of economic damage to the state, and on Wednesday, the Hispanic National Bar Association said it was cancelling its 2015 convention in Phoenix because of the proposal, becoming one of the first groups to pull an event from that state.

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Even as momentum continues to build against Arizona’s controversial bill that would allow businesses to deny service to gay couples on religious grounds, the NFL on Wednesday morning began investigating the necessary steps to move next season’s Super Bowl from the Phoenix area, if the proposal becomes law, a source close to the situation confirmed.

The Tampa Bay area finished as the runner-up and was the only other finalist in the bidding for Super Bowl XLIX, which was awarded to Arizona in October 2011, and would in all likelihood be the NFL’s first option for relocating the game at this relatively late date. Next season’s Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in suburban Glendale, Ariz., but the religious rights measure known as Senate Bill 1062 might jeopardize the area’s host duties…

“No one wants to do this, but if the league’s hand is forced, it would have to begin preparing for that process,” the source close to the situation said. “If this doesn’t get vetoed, it has to know, what has to be done next? That discussion has begun.

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What if an Army sergeant in full regalia is driving through a small town and his car breaks down and it’s too late to find a mechanic? There are two hotels in the town; both are owned by pacifist Christians. Do the backers of this bill really believe it should be legal for him to be refused a room and forced to sleep in his car?

Or: A couple, white male and black female, enter a florist to order arrangements for their wedding. The owner — a Bob Jones University graduate circa 1985, when the college still officially banned interracial dating — feels that he cannot contribute to something he believes is morally wrong (mixed-race marriage) on biblical grounds. Should he be allowed to refuse service even if it violates a federal anti-discrimination statute?…

What if a town dominated by Mainline Protestants decides they don’t want to serve evangelical Christians because they don’t want to be seen as affirming people who they think are distorting the teachings of the Bible and dishonoring God? An evangelical pastor and his family show up at a hotel and are turned away. How is this right?

In a religiously pluralistic society, the possibilities for discrimination based on sincerely held religious beliefs are endless. Pray that Gov. Brewer vetoes this abomination of a bill.

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SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category).

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakery that closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

For that matter, gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work religious celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, and environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities. This isn’t the Jim Crow South; there are plenty of wedding photographers – over 100 in Albuquerque – and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation, and no state is enforcing segregation laws. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would and do see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.

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There is a note of Nikita in this battle, a sense that people on both sides would like to just come out and say “we will bury you”, and it’s really beginning to trouble me, because it is letting hate overrule simple humanity.

I saw it in my email, last night, when a guy who seemed to be Yosemite Sam Incarnate all but called me a “religious nut-job varmint” and challenged me to a duel…

I saw it again — much more dramatically and appallingly — in a social media thread, where a Catholic, running on the cheap fuel of emotionalism and revved up with righteousness, was willing to be publicly cruel to a very kind homosexual man…

I feel like I’m watching my gay friends get mauled and then watching my Catholic friends get mauled, both by people who have lost the ability to do anything but feel and seethe.

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Via the Blaze.