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Two steps forward, two steps back: A look at Arizona’s religious freedom bill

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has until Friday or Saturday morning to either veto or sign the state’s controversial anti-gay bill.
Cheryl Evans, AP Photo/The Arizona Republic

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has a big decision to make this week, after the state Legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners the right to refuse service to LGBT people (and just about anyone else) based on their religious beliefs.

Two weeks earlier and a state away, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Brian Sandoval announced they would not defend our state’s ban on same-sex marriage when it goes before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While Brewer weighs whether or not to sign the anti-gay bill, lawmakers and companies have been urging her to veto—including Apple, Republican U.S. senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, and even three Arizona state senators who initially voted in favor of the bill, according to Fortune.

Other states have recently introduced similar legislation, including Kansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. Only Arizona has passed it, though, and the country’s current trend seems to lean progressive. Recent court decisions legalized gay marriage in New Mexico and struck down bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia (all three have filed appeals, with stays currently in place that restrict same-sex marriages). In addition, 10 of the 17 states that have legalized same-sex marriage have done so in the past two years—three at the ballot box, with voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approving marriage equality in 2012.

So, as much of the country marches forward, the Grand Canyon State is dragging America’s feet in the mud. But as despicable as it is, it’s hardly a surprise. After all, this is the state that legalized racial profiling.

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Mark Adams joined the Las Vegas Weekly in 2010 and now serves as the magazine’s web editor. You can also ...

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