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Maybe Jan Brewer's veto signals weakening of religion in our politics

There were a lot of very good reasons for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto that obnoxiously discriminatory law that would have allowed businesses to not serve gays -- or anyone else -- if the owner believed something about the person -- sexual orientation, race -- offended his or her religion. We’ve detailed many of those good arguments against the bill in blog posts and on the editorial page.

Of course, the cynical read of the situation is that Brewer’s decision was based on political pragmatism rather than a principled stand against discrimination.

Arizona’s business community complained that the law would affect tourism. The NFL made some noise about moving next season’s Super Bowl, set for Arizona, if the law went into effect (it did just that in 1993 the wake of Arizona’s rejection of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; the Super Bowl was held at the Rose Bowl instead).

And it could be that Brewer just realized that the law was too crazy even for Arizona.

If indeed Brewer did make her call based on political pressure, that is a good thing. It has been a political process, not just in Arizona but in Kansas and other states where the tea party and social conservatism are strong, that has led to such onerous bits of legislation. There are some elected true believers, of course, but some elected Republicans vote for these throwback bills for fear of being ousted by religious zealots in the party primaries.

If Brewer's veto means that in Arizona the right-wing fringe has been stymied in the political process, maybe we are beginning to see the end of this historic and bizarre convulsion of religious fervor in our politics. And that would be a good thing for a nation that ostensibly prides itself on its religious freedom, and its separation of church and state.


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Follow Scott Martelle on Twitter: @smartelle

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