Speed Read: Arizona OKs religious bias
ARIZONA HOUSE OKS RELIGIOUS BIAS: The Arizona House voted 33 to 27 Thursday to approve a bill that allows people to claim that discriminatory treatment of others is an exercise of their religious beliefs, making it the first legislature to pass such a bill. Though some legislators argued that the measure, which passed the Arizona Senate earlier this week, is intended protect religious freedom, opponents said it is clearly aimed at allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill goes now to the desk of Republican Governor Jan Brewer. The Arizona Republic newspaper’s editorial board immediately ran an editorial urging the governor to veto the measure as harmful to the state’s economic development.
MAINE KILLS RELIGIOUS BIAS BILL: While the Arizona legislature became the first to pass a religious bias bill, the Maine House of Representatives voted 52 to 89 Thursday against a similar bill, becoming at least the fifth such legislature to kill or indefinitely stall the measure in the past month. The Maine Senate rejected the bill two days earlier. Opponents say the legislation is aimed at allowing businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples. Some say the bill is also designed to allow employers to refuse to provide health coverage that includes certain reproductive services, such as insemination, contraception, and abortion.
OREGON AG WON’T DEFEND BAN: Following a growing trend, the Oregon Attorney General announced Thursday that her office will not defend as constitutional the state ban on allowing same-sex couples to marry. Ellen Rosenblum said her office “cannot identify a valid reason for the state to prevent” same-sex couples from marrying. Rosenblum’s announcement came in regards to Geiger v. Kitzhaber, a lawsuit brought by four couples in Eugene. Oral argument in the case is set for April.
MIZEUR RUNNING THIRD IN MARYLAND: The latest Washington Post poll shows openly gay state Delegate Heather Mizeur’s campaign polling third among the Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls in Maryland. The survey of registered voters showed only nine percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they would vote for Mizeur, if the election were held today. Thirty-two percent said they would support current Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, 15 percent would vote for current Attorney General Doug Ganzler, and the rest were undecided or chose others.
MARRIAGE NOT MUCH OF AN ISSUE: The Washington Post poll also asked registered voters in Maryland how important “gay marriage” is to their decision on who to support for governor. Forty-four percent chose “Not too important,” 19 percent said “Fairly important,” 20 percent said “Very important,” and 15 percent said “extremely important.”
BUDGETING FOR BOOK BIAS: A budget committee in the South Carolina House Wednesday approved cutting money from the budgets of two public colleges because the schools included pro-gay textbooks as part of their curricula. Rep. Garry Smith proposed the cuts, saying the books were “purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.” One book was an autobiography by Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), used by the College of Charleston; the other book (Out Loud) was about a gay and lesbian radio show, used by the University of South Carolina.