In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Arizona Not Done! Bill Would Allow Judges To Discriminate Against Gays

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AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin

The proposed bill language says that: "the government may not require a minister to solemnize a marriage that is inconsistent with the minister's sincerely held religious beliefs."

Gay marriage, it should be noted, is not legal in Arizona.

The problem, according to gay rights advocates, is that the definition of "minister" is broad: "an individual who is authorized to solemnize a marriage" under Arizona law. The relevant statute includes state and local judges as well as justices of the peace and members of the clergy.

"It's on our radar. We are watching it. We do have concerns about it," Rebecca Winiger, president of Equality Arizona, a gay rights group, told TPM in a phone interview. "Not necessarily the part where ministers do not have to perform them in line with the tenets of their faith because that follows state law."

"But the definition of ministers does flow down to judges, which is in direct conflict with some of the already established judicial ethics policies. It would just create confusion."

The bill is narrower than the broad "religious freedom" bill, which advocates warned would have legitimized widespread discrimination against LGBT people, that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed Wednesday.

About The Author

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Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.