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Arizona's SB 1062 Vetoed, What Does it Mean For Phoenix Marriages?

Now that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, the marriage industry in Phoenix will have to serve same-sex couples that want to celebrate their domestic partnerships, even if it's against their religious beliefs.

SB 1062 sought to allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples based on their religious beliefs. Governor Brewer thought that bill was broadly worded and if passed, could have negative consequences for the state, according to CNN.

With the bill off the table, what are Phoenix's public accommodation laws and how will businesses be impacted?

Phoenix's Public Accommodation Laws

Federal and state laws protect against discrimination in places considered public accommodations. Public accommodations include private businesses and places that are open to the public.

Under Arizona state law, discrimination based on sexual orientation isn't prohibited in public accommodations. The Grand Canyon State only protects categories such as race, color, national origin/ancestry, sex, religion, physical and mental disability, according to Arizona's Attorney General.

Although the state doesn't include sexual orientation as a protected class, Phoenix's local laws do. In Phoenix, it's unlawful to discriminate against sexual orientation and gender when it comes to public accommodation and employment.

Cities and towns are allowed to make more expansive laws, as long as they don't conflict with state laws. Since Arizona's law is silent on protecting gay people against discrimination in public places, Phoenix has the authority to enact anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation.

How The Laws Affect Businesses

Although same-sex marriage isn't recognized in the state, Phoenix offers domestic partnerships to gay couples. Now that SB 1062 has been vetoed, businesses in the marriage industry can't refuse to serve same-sex couples as they plan their celebrations.

For example, if a same-sex couple decides to throw a party at a Phoenix hotel to celebrate their domestic partnership, the hotel can't deny them the reservation based on their sexual orientation, even if the owner's religious beliefs don't support gay unions.

The interplay between gay marriage and public accommodations law is far from settled in Phoenix, and another bill like SB 1062 may surface in the future.

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