Arizona Senate: Business Owners Can Cite Religion to Refuse Service to Gays

Arizona Senate: Business Owners Can Cite Religion to Refuse Service to Gays

[Arizona Daily Star]

Jo Beaudry holds up a sign as she joins nearly 250 gay rights supporters protesting SB1062 at the Arizona Capitol, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix.  The protesters gathered demanding Gov. Jan Brewer veto legislation that would allow business owners to refuse to serve gays by citing their religious beliefs.  The governor must sign or veto Senate Bill 1062 by the end of next week. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Jo Beaudry holds up a sign as she joins nearly 250 gay rights supporters protesting SB1062 at the Arizona Capitol, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — State senators voted Wednesday to let businesses refuse to serve gays based on owners’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

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, 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.”

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