Arizona Might Make it Legal to Refuse Service to Gays for 'Religious Reasons'

Arizona just passed another bill designed to exclude certain people.

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Arizona, which under the governorship of Jan "SB 1070" Brewer has become one of the more hateful states in our great nation, just passed another bill designed to exclude certain people.

Senate Bill 1062 allows businesses or people to refuse service to anyone who goes against their religion. Any guesses who those anyones might be? Here's a hint: the bill was inspired by a wedding photographer who was sued for refusing to take photos of a gay couple's wedding.

The state's Senate passed the bill yesterday (with all Republicans voting for it and all Democrats voting against) and the House passed it today (all but three Republicans voted for it and all Democrats voted against it), sending it to the governor to sign. The Arizona Republic says there's a "strong chance" she will, though Brewer has not commented. If she does, it's the law.

While those who oppose the bill say it gives people a free pass to deny services to gays and other minority groups (the Democrats called it "state-sanctioned discrimination"), those in favor say it does the opposite.

"This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith," said Sen. Steve Yarbrough, who sponsored the bill, which was backed by a "leading prolife, pro-family organization" that puts the word "marriage" in quotation marks when it is preceded by "same-sex."

But another senator named Steve -- Steve Farley -- told the Republic: "I think this bill makes a statement … that we don't welcome people here. This bill gets in the way. This bill sends the wrong message around the country and around the world."

As the AP points out, Arizona's bill may soon have company. Similar bills have been introduced in Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee, though they have stalled in some of those states. Maine's House of Representatives voted a freedom to exercise religion bill down today.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.