As Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) considers whether to sign a law that would give businesses a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people, the state’s Super Bowl host committee is urging her to stamp a veto on the bill.
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is scheduled to host Super Bowl XLIX next February.
“We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination,” the host committee said in statement released Monday. “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. 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.”
The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals also expressed opposition to the bill.
“What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together,” the team said in a statement. “We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.”
Arizona business leaders have warned that signing the bill into law could jeopardize the state’s Super Bowl, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said Monday that the NFL should look into moving the game if the law goes into effect. As the Huffington Post noted, the NFL moved Super Bowl XXVII out of Arizona when the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. The state also faced threats from Major League Baseball when Brewer signed a broad anti-immigration law — SB 1070 — in 2011, just ahead of the league’s All-Star Game (the game was held as planned, though it was surrounded by protests and complaints from Latino ballplayers).
The law would give businesses the right to refuse service to LGBT people if they believe that being gay violates their religious beliefs. It would put the state in direct opposition to the league’s stated goals of becoming more open and tolerant to LGBT people. The NFL added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy in 2011 and made that policy even stronger in 2013. The NFL Draft in May could see the league welcome its first openly gay player after University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay earlier this month.
AT&T, which recently signed a stadium naming rights deal with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, also opposes the law, as do numerous other businesses and politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
The NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury released a joint statement condemning the bill Tuesday night, via the Mercury’s Twitter account:
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.