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Before being vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Senate Bill 1062 fell under harsh criticism from MLB, NBA and WNBA. The law, vetoed on February 26 by Brewer, would have offered a legal defense to businesses and individuals facing discrimination lawsuits if they could prove they acted on a “sincerely held religious belief.” In effect, it would have promoted LGBT discrimination in the state of Arizona. The NFL Super Bowl Committee also voiced disproval of the legislation.
With half of the 30 MLB clubs now at spring training camps dispersed throughout Arizona, Major League Baseball issued the following statement before the veto was announced:
“As the sport of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball and its 30 Clubs stand united behind the principles of respect, inclusion and acceptance. Those values are fundamental to our game’s diverse players, employees and fans. We welcome individuals of different sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and national origins.”
“MLB has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, as reflected by our collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association. Accordingly, MLB will neither support nor tolerate any words, attitudes or actions that imperil the inclusive communities that we have strived to foster within our game.”
In basketball, the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury represent the NBA and WNBA respectively in the Grand Canyon State. This is what both organizations had to say regarding the proposed bill:
“Sports has the unique power to unite, to bring together a community without regard to individual differences. The Phoenix Suns & Phoenix Mercury are proud members of this community, and we embrace fans, families and businesses of every stripe. We are steadfastly committed to the principles of inclusivity and acceptance, and cannot support anything that is not in line with that philosophy.”
As for the Super Bowl, the Arizona host committee said in its statement in full:
“We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the NFL 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.”
“Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL’s values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.’’