US: State governor vetoes religious freedom Bill

Arizona’s state governor Jan Brewer, has vetoed a Bill that would have protected the religious freedoms of residents.

The Bill would have modified the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and prevented people being forced by law to violate their “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Critics argued, however, that it would have given people free reign to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Deceived

A group of liberal and conservative law professors wrote a letter telling Brewer that she was being “deceived” by those claiming that the amendments would encourage blanket discrimination against homosexuals.

“It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion,” they said.

Challenged

Brewer defended her decision in a press conference saying: “I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state.”

She claimed: “The Bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences”.

Marriage

Arizona joins a growing list of US states reviewing the conflict between state law and religious freedom, in the light of same-sex marriage.

In Missouri a Republican lawmaker has introduced a reportedly similar Bill to Arizona’s that would allow businesses to turn away custom due to sincerely held religious beliefs.

A judge in Texas recently said the state’s laws upholding the true definition marriage were unconstitutional.

Political

A lawyer defending the state said however: “These questions are political questions, not constitutional rights”.

Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy added: “Same-sex marriage is not included in the fundamental right of marriage”.

In Virginia, officials are appealing a federal judge’s decision to overturn a voter-approved amendment upholding traditional marriage.

Similar constitutional amendments exist in 29 US states.

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