The NFL is keeping a close eye on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has until Saturday to veto, ignore or sign SB 1062, a bill that would allow businesses in the state to use religious beliefs as a way to refuse serving gay patrons. Why does the NFL have an interest in the bill? Because Super Bowl XLIX is scheduled to be played in Arizona next year, and passage of the bill might prompt the league to move the game if the measure is passed.
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. “We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee said in a statement that it is against the bill.
“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 committee said.
The NFL already yanked a Super Bowl away from Arizona. After Arizona voters failed to approve a paid state holiday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in November, 1990, the league moved the 1993 Super Bowl to Pasadena, Calif. The Super Bowl was played in 1996 in Tempe, Ariz. after voters approved the King measure in 1992.
SB 1062 comes at a time when the NFL is about to welcome its first openly gay player – Missouri defensive end/linebacker Michael Sam. In addition, Jason Collins of the Nets became the first openly gay player to participate in an NBA game on Sunday in Los Angeles.