As opponents of Arizona’s SB 1062 celebrate its downfall at the hands of Governor Jan Brewer, another bill is brewing that would allow for discrimination on the basis of religious freedom. Named House Bill 2481, it states that the state government cannot force religious authorities or judges to “solemnize a marriage that is inconsistent with the minister’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” It is currently making its way through state legislature and from there it will go to a floor debate in the Arizona House of Representatives.
Pastor and Arizona Rep. Steve Montenegro drafted the bill and said he was inspired by cases in New Jersey and England, where clergy were ordered to conduct religious ceremonies for same sex couples. “The intent of my bill is to directly protect clergy, churches, man or woman of the cloth, to protect them from doing marriage ceremonies that go against their faith,” Montenegro said to the Arizona Republic.
The bill is significantly narrower in scope than SB 1062, but it does put down a major roadblock for same-sex marriage when any official who can officially recognize the marriage has an unrestricted right to refuse to do so. Arizona’s history with gay marriage is mixed. Though they did turn down Proposition 107 (a ban on gay marriage) in 2006, the state still does not recognize same-sex marriage from within the state or from elsewhere.