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.