Arizona Has to Decide Whether It Loves the Super Bowl More Than It Fears the Gays

What if businesses were as religiously-opposed to Arizona as it wants to be against gay people? For starters, they'd lose their precious Super Bowl.

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What if businesses were as religiously opposed to Arizona as it wants to be against gay people? For starters, they'd lose their precious Super Bowl. Phoenix hosts the Super Bowl in February, a humongous boom for the businesses and the local economy. When fans go to the Super Bowl they stay in hotels, eat and drink at restaurants, buy crappy souvenirs, see touristy things — they spend money, and local businesses love when people spend money.

But that windfall might be in jeopardy. In an statement on Monday, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee put the heat on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, a measure that would allow businesses not to serve gay people under the guise of "religious freedom." (NBC reports Brewer is "likely" to veto the bill.)  

The committee explained that the businesses, like the ones SB 1062 wants to give the option to discriminate, don't like the bill: 

In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. 

The state has learned this lesson before. The last time  the Super Bowl was moved because of politics was (take a guess)... in Arizona, when the state refused to observe Martin Luther King Day. In the late 1980s, then-Gov. Evan Mecham cancelled MLK Day, and was later impeached. The state legislature passed a bill to reinstate the holiday, but Mecham supporters forced a referendum on it. Arizonans voted down the holiday in November 1990. At the time, a former mayor of Phoenix said MLK Day lost for several reasons, and, "I think one of them was that people thought they were being blackmailed by the NFL." The NFL wasn't bluffing, and Arizona lost the 1993 game. Then-Gov. Rose Mofford said of the vote, "This is one of the worst blows we've had in a long time... This will be hard to overcome for many years."

It wouldn't be that far out to think the NFL would move the Super Bowl if Brewer signed SB 1062 into law, especially since the league has been trying to reaffirm its support for gay rights.

But the NFL and Super Bowl Committee aren't the only ones upset with the ruling. They're just the latest. Here's a brief rundown:

Most of those warnings are that people will stop visiting Arizona and hurt the businesses that don't not even want to discriminate against gay people. Some of them talk about how good, smart people might not want to live in Arizona and work for those companies because of the bigoted law. And a lot have to do with just being decent human beings.

"At American Airlines, we respect and celebrate the strength diversity of our customers, employees, and communities in every way we can," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker wrote in a letter to Brewer. "Hence I also write on behalf of these dedicated individuals who take pride in their work, families and communities. I am confident that your veto of this bill would be welcomed with great enthusiasm by the American family, " Parker added.

Brewer has until Friday to veto the bill. Again, NBC has sources that say she will veto the bill, but publicly she hasn't revealed her cards, only saying that she "will do the right thing for Arizona."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.