Arizona Passes Bill Allowing Businesses To Refuse Service To Gays
Via FOX News reports:
he Arizona Senate on Wednesday passed a bill backed by Republicans that expands the rights of people to assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others, a measure Democrats say will open the doors for discrimination and hurt the state economy.
Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the bill that was pushed by social conservatives, saying it would allow discriminatory actions by businesses.
But sponsor Sen. Steve Yarbrough of Chandler said his push for Senate Bill 1062 was prompted by a New Mexico case in which the state Supreme Court allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to take pictures of their wedding. He says he’s protecting religious rights.
“This bill is not about allowing discrimination,” Yarbrough said during a debate that stretched for nearly two hours. “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
The bill passed on a 17-13 party-line vote.
Democrats sponsored eight hostile amendments in an effort to sidetrack the legislation, but they were steadily rejected by Republicans who control the Senate.
Democrats repeatedly said they believed Yarbrough’s legislation was clearly designed to allow discrimination.
“The heart of this bill would allow for discrimination versus gays and lesbians,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. “You can’t argue the fact that bill will invite discrimination. That’s the point of this bill. It is.”
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, warned of economic consequences if the Legislature passed the bill and it is signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. He said companies would begin to avoid Arizona, as they did after the state passed its signature immigration crackdown law, SB1070, in 2010.
“I think this bill makes a statement … that we don’t welcome people here,” Farley said. “This bill gets in the way, this bill sends the wrong message around the country and around the world.”
A similar bill is making its way through the Arizona House and is set for floor debate Thursday afternoon. It is expected to win approval from majority Republicans in that chamber as well and could be on Brewer’s desk early next week.