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Arizona's anti-gay bill veto unlikely to end 'religious freedom' movement

By Chelsea J. Carter. Ben Brumfield and Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 4:06 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arizona's governor felt it wasn't right; many lawmakers face her decision
  • "Right behind it are Missouri and Georgia," says analyst at political think tank
  • He predicts the advocates will follow the lead set by anti-abortion advocates
  • "It's a big, black mark against a state," says GLAAD CEO

(CNN) -- To Arizona's governor, a bill that would have allowed businesses to close their doors to gays and lesbians out of religious conviction was wrong for the state. So, she vetoed it.

The buck may have stopped with Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona on Wednesday, but the fight to pass such laws bannered as religious freedom issues is still on in quite a few other states.

"Right behind it are Missouri and Georgia," said Jay Michaelson, a fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive political think tank.

Brewer felt Senate Bill 1062 did not address specific dangers to religious freedom.

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"It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine," said Brewer, who said she tuned out public pressure and made the decision she felt was right.

Attention now turns to the following states:

Georgia

The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act has been introduced into Georgia's Legislature, and it is similar to the one vetoed in Arizona.

The measure, which is moving through the state House of Representatives, allows a private company to ignore state law that "directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies" a person's religious beliefs.

An almost identical bill has been introduced in the state Senate.

Much like the Arizona measure, neither Georgia's House nor Senate bills specifically spell out gays or lesbians as the target.

The legislation is not on the calendar for Monday, or "Crossover Day," the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it was introduced and transfer to the other chamber for consideration.

But Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said it could still appear on Monday. His group opposes the legislation.

Graham doesn't rule out the bill moving forward, even if it doesn't make the calendar. "This could still come up as an amendment to another bill."

Idaho

There are two bills being considered. HB 426 would protect people making decisions out of religious convictions -- including denying service to someone. HB 427 gives people protection against legal claims made against them in cases involving religious convictions.

If passed into law, the first bill probably would be vulnerable to constitutional legal challenges. Both bills could cause many disruptions to everyday life in the state, a state attorney general said in an article in the The Spokesman Review.

HB 427 has been sent back to committee.

Mississippi

A bill is being considered to legally protect people against being compelled to take any action against their religion. SB 2681 does not explicitly mention gays, lesbians or same-sex marriage. It has passed the Senate and was referred to House, where it is in a judiciary committee.

Missouri

A bill that requires the government to show a compelling interest in any attempt to restrict a person's right to practice religion was introduced this week by Republican state Sen. Wayne Wallingford.

SB 916 provides for additional civil protections to the state's existing "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," according to the senator.

But critics of the law say it's a way to discriminate against gays.

Ohio

The House introduced HB 376 in December. It also does not single out same-sex relations for discrimination but gives legal protection to individuals acting or making decisions out of religious conviction. It's currently in judiciary committee. Critics say it's aimed at discrimination against same-sex couples, knoxnews.com reported.

Oregon

The conservative Oregon Family Council is sponsoring a ballot measure -- the "Protect Religious Freedoms Initiative" -- that would allow private businesses to deny services that would support same-sex marriage.

The group, which previously supported the effort to ban same-sex marriage in the state, is pushing to get the measure on the November ballot.

South Dakota

Conservative senators introduced one bill that would allow businesses or people to deny "certain wedding services or goods due to the free exercise of religion." But its main sponsor withdrew it.

But there's a second one protecting "speech pertaining to views on sexual orientation." It has been deferred to a late legislative day.

There are also states where proposed bills have already hit a legislative wall:

Colorado

A bill that would have allowed people to defend against discrimination allegations on the basis of religious convictions was killed in committee, The Denver Post reported

Kansas

State representatives introduced a bill in January that would have explicitly permitted religious business people and government workers to refuse serving same-sex couples. It passed the House, with a vote of 72 to 49, but failed in the Republican-dominated Senate.

Maine

A conservative senator introduced a religious freedom bill that would have protected people making decisions out of religious convictions that other legislators felt interfered with other people's civil rights. The state Senate and House both voted it down, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Tennessee

Tennessee legislators introduced a bill in early February that proponents said would protect businesses if they refused services to gays and lesbians. Critics called it the "Turn the Gays Away" bill.

The measure has been withdrawn from committee, CNN affiliate WSMV reported.

Utah

Conservative state Sen. Stuart Reid introduced a bill similar to the Arizona bill that was vetoed, but it has since been shelved, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

CNN's Julie In contributed to this report.

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