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Arizona Senate Passes Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse Service to Gays Based on Religious Beliefs

Arizonaflag Yarbrough

Arizona's Senate has voted 17-13 to approve a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs, the Arizona Daily Star reports:

The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation. Sen. Steve Yarbrough (pictured), R-Chandler, said that's a separate issue from what he is trying to do.

But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said that's precisely the issue.

"The bill opens the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians," he said.

Yarbrough, however, said foes of SB 1062 are twisting what his legislation says.

"This bill is not about discrimination," he said. "It's about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

According to an earlier report in the Star, "SB 1062 would allow businesses sued in a civil case to claim they have a legal right to not provide service to an individual or group because it would “substantially burden’’ their freedom of religion."

Read the text of the bill here.

The House is set to vote on a matching bill imminently.

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  1. The bill does not specifically mention "gay" and will open the door to widespread discrimination. Does your religion teach that everyone not of your faith is evil and will burn in Hell forever? You can refuse them service. Does your religion teach you that only whites are blessed by God? You can refuse service to anyone who does not have the right shade of skin. Does your religion teach you that women must not be allowed out into public with visible skin? You can refuse service to tramps with bare arms.

    Worse, an employee with such beliefs cannot be fired if they discriminate against customers, regardless of company policy: the religious fee-fees of the bigot would take total and absolute priority over the business plan of the employer.

    Just wait until a Muslim shopkeeper uses the law to ban Christians: you know what will hit the fan then.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Feb 20, 2014 8:30:03 AM

  2. So, among other types of businesses, restaurants can turn people away for being gay, but there's no indication about how restaurant owners determine who is and who isn't. Does this also mean a disabled gay war veteran would also be turned away? Does it also include elderly gay men and women? How about gay youth? Will they get thrown out as well?

    Will they be installing Gaydar Meters at the doors of these businesses? Will all customers have to fill out "lifestyle applications" in order to get a burger and fries?

    Many years ago, I owned a restaurant. We welcomed everyone because the color of their money was the same as everyone else's. With Arizona's economy in the toilet, it is hard to imagine why any business would turn away any customer who was ready, willing and able to pay for goods and services.

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 20, 2014 8:37:32 AM

  3. This is so unconstitutional it's laughable and won't survive a court challenge. What would be there to stop me from creating my own religion and hold that it's my belief that I can't serve wedding cakes to bald white men who wear glasses.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 20, 2014 8:45:01 AM

  4. Clearly you'll be creating a war against religion, and that is just unacceptable @SPACECADET

    Posted by: Monsieur V | Feb 20, 2014 8:52:03 AM

  5. Oh - look - SPECIAL RIGHTS ... for Fundamentalist Christians.

    Posted by: ursomniac | Feb 20, 2014 8:59:16 AM

  6. The assumption here is that the only "true" religion will be their particular brand--all others won't count. And there will be howls of protest if someone discriminated against a christian, using exactly this law. Their response would be something like "Oh, no, we meant only OUR religious beliefs."

    Posted by: kdknyc | Feb 20, 2014 9:04:37 AM

  7. Ok fine. But if you're claiming this hard line religious freedom, you'll have to follow it all precisely as it's written. Divorced? Prepare to be stoned to death. Why? Because the bible says so.

    Religion is open to interpretation. A Christian could simply follow the direction to "love one another," and "judge not, lest ye be judged" and be supportive of or participate in a gay relationship.

    If the bible is going to be the law of the land (it isn't, nor was it ever meant to be) those wielding this literary sword should be prepared to die by its draconian edicts as well. Good luck!

    Posted by: DickZinya | Feb 20, 2014 9:06:11 AM

  8. The Center for Arizona Policy, a fundamentalist think tank, wrote the bill. They are a "non-profit" that writes anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti education bills, hands them over to the legislature, and AZ tax payers end up footing the millions of dollars in legal bills that result.

    Posted by: homer | Feb 20, 2014 9:16:42 AM

  9. I'll spend my travel money in California. The thought of being refused service while on vacation is just vile.

    Posted by: excy | Feb 20, 2014 9:21:25 AM

  10. I gather the separation of Church and State only happens in the mens room of he Capitol building?

    Posted by: Rad | Feb 20, 2014 9:29:45 AM

  11. "This bill is not about discrimination," he said. "It's about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

    That's some superb double-speak. Arizona is a cesspool of Mormon bigotry.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 20, 2014 9:30:38 AM

  12. The National Football League is about to hold the 2015 Super Bowl in Arizona. Pressure should begin immediately on the NFL to move the Super Bowl -- if this bill passes, every motel owner, taxi cab operator, restaurant, etc. will be able to deny service to Super Bowl fans who "life-styles" conflict with the religious beliefs to the service provider.


    Posted by: MiddleoftheRoader | Feb 20, 2014 9:50:42 AM

  13. Does this mean that if you have a sincere religious belief that you should be able to marry the person you love, that Arizona would be compelled to give you a marriage license so that you can freely exercise your religion?

    Posted by: TED | Feb 20, 2014 10:12:13 AM

  14. It seems only fair that if businesses are going to be allowed to discriminate in this manner then they should be required to post a large sign out front of their establishments alerting potential customers to that fact that they may be denied service if they don't meet the owners arbitrary standards of religious purity. I'm sure having to post something welcoming like "White, Straight, Non-divorced Christians Only" in the window would be great for business.

    Posted by: e.c. | Feb 20, 2014 10:21:07 AM

  15. The state hasn't changed since the MLK holiday fiasco that cost them the Super Bowl in 1990. I've seen the Grand Canyon and Sedona; I didn't plan on going back. I'd rather do what I can to make this boil fester.

    Posted by: parkrunner | Feb 20, 2014 10:31:49 AM

  16. How can you know who's being religiously "sincere" in their homophobia as opposed to just run of the mill homophobia? Is the government going to be involved in religious sincerity tests?

    Posted by: PHW | Feb 20, 2014 11:36:37 AM

  17. Wouldn't it be nice if the religious in Arizona who believe in equality started a campaign to fight this execrable bill. I suggest t-shirts that say I BELIEVE IN THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND HATE.

    Posted by: Bryan L | Feb 20, 2014 11:53:30 AM

  18. This is so exhausting. It is time that practicing homosexuality be classified as part of our "gay" religion. Then, if we are refused services or discriminated against in any way we can claim religious persecution.

    Posted by: Moretruth | Feb 20, 2014 11:57:48 AM

  19. This is so exhausting. It is time that practicing homosexuality be classified as part of our "gay" religion. Then, if we are refused services or discriminated against in any way we can claim religious persecution.

    Posted by: Moretruth | Feb 20, 2014 11:57:48 AM

  20. @Parkrunner, the Super Bowl is going to be in Phoenix again next year (2015).. Maybe with enough public pressure we could get the Super Bowl to pull out of Arizona, again!

    Posted by: Luke | Feb 20, 2014 11:59:47 AM

  21. I just cancelled my next two trips to Arizona.

    I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.

    Posted by: jexer | Feb 20, 2014 12:18:55 PM

  22. Where are the gay Republicans lauding their party and telling us how horribly hateful progressives are?


    Posted by: Marshall | Feb 20, 2014 1:08:01 PM

  23. The text of the law includes the following, which seems to suggest that using this exception to civil rights laws might be harder than it seems.

    E. A person that asserts a violation of this section must establish all of the following:

    1. That the person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief.

    2. That the person's religious belief is sincerely held.

    3. That the state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs.

    F. The person asserting a claim or defense under subsection D of this section may obtain injunctive and declaratory relief. A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

    E. In For the purposes of this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 20, 2014 1:11:55 PM

  24. All they're doing is making a statement. They know full well that this is unconstitutional and will get laughed out of the first courtroom it hits. These laws are quite trendy in the red states at the moment. Want to get their attention? As soon as the law is passed and in effect, have a Muslim refuse service to a Christian. They'll see the light then. Up here in Maine, the state Senate voted down a bill like this and is headed for certain defeat in the House.

    Posted by: HOFFENPOT | Feb 20, 2014 1:13:30 PM

  25. Good Christians. Doing God's work. Mike Huckabee & Sarah Palin style Christians. Where's Michelle Bachman? Ted Cruz?

    Their narrowmindedness will be their undoing. Other religions that aren't fundamentalist will see this for the socially destructive desperation tactic it really is. Of course it's unconstitutional. Of course it's a societal minefield. Their true face has been revealed.

    It's not like we didn't know this was coming. Wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in a few other Republican strongholds. Let's give equality affirming religions of all denominations and other equality affirming groups & businesses a chance to speak up. See if any local or national Republican figures speak up.

    Really Priebus? Is this the war horse you want the GOP to ride to the Nov elections?

    Posted by: BOOM! | Feb 20, 2014 1:16:45 PM

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