Arizona Legislature Approves Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse Service to Gays


The Arizona House voted 33-27 today to give its approval to a bill already approved by the Arizona Senate that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays based on their religious beliefs.

The AP reports:

Opponents raised scenarios in which gay people in Arizona could be denied service at a restaurant or refused medical treatment if a business owner thought homosexuality was not in accordance with his religion. One lawmaker held up a sign that read "NO GAYS ALLOWED" in arguing what could happen if the law took effect, drawing a rebuke for violating House rules.

The bill is backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law.

"We see a growing hostility toward religion," said Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the group.

All but three Republicans in the House backed the bill Thursday evening. The Senate passed the bill a day earlier on a straight party-line vote of 17-13.

The bill is similar to legislation pending in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma. It now heads to Governor Jan Brewer for signature.

(image neil schneider)