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Ariz. House panel OKs bill allowing discrimination based on religious beliefs

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

PHOENIX — An Arizona House panel on Tuesday approved changes to a proposed law beefing up protections for businesses that assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others, but the changes didn’t placate critics who call the bill a way to allow discrimination.

ArizonaThe measure first introduced in the Senate by Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, was amended in the House Government Committee to try to mollify civil rights groups’ concerns.

But secular groups and members of the LGBT community still strongly oppose the bill being pushed by the social conservative group Center for Arizona Policy.

Critics told the committee that the bill’s primary purpose is to allow discrimination against gays.

“It most decisively takes away reasonable protections people have from the imposition of the religious beliefs of other upon them,” Erica Keppler, a transgendered woman, said in an interview.

Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth called the concerns false, saying the changes were needed to protect Arizonans from judges across the country who have allowed lawsuits against people who say their religious beliefs led them to refuse service to someone.

He pointed to a New Mexico case where a gay couple was allowed to sue a photographer who refused to document their wedding.

“Trust me. It’s coming. This isn’t one isolated case,” Farnsworth said.

Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy, said the proposal is simply an effort to clarify protections already in state law, and it is not discriminatory.

“That is fear-mongering and a distraction from what this bill is really intended to be, and that it’s about religious liberty, ensuring that in America, people are free to live and work according to their faith,” he said.

Other supporters included the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian policy group, and the Arizona Catholic Conference.

Opponents worry that innkeepers, for instance, could refuse to rent a room to a gay couple or a Muslim couple and argue their religious beliefs dictated their action.

“This leaves the door open to all sorts of crazy religious practices,” said John Shelton, with the Secular coalition for Arizona.

House Bill 2153 passed the House government committee on a 5-2 vote with the two Democrats opposing. The identical bill sponsored by Yarbrough, Senate Bill 1062, also has passed committee and could reach the full Senate soon.

Another bill approved by the committee on a party-line vote Tuesday would give legal cover to ministers who refuse to officiate over gay marriages. House Bill 2481 by Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro was opposed by the Anti-Defamation League because it also would allow justices of the peace, judges or other civil servants to refuse to oversee a marriage.

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119 more reader comments:

  1. fuc.k them

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:17am
  2. -face palm- Don’t we have something called separation of religion and state?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:17am
  3. Arizona is just begging for a massive lawsuit and federal court turnover of that law.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:17am
  4. bet they can’t wait to have their rights removed by a few islamists using the same rules

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:18am
  5. Thank you, Anthony. That’s what I was thinking. So wrong.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:18am
  6. This is pathetic

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:18am
  7. So sad. Yet another pointless piece of crap that the next generation will need to clear away before actually moving their state forward.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:19am
  8. So now it starts going up through the legal system costing a lot of tax payer $$$.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:20am
  9. disgusting. just pisses me off!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:20am
  10. So when should we be expecting slavery to become legal again and for murder of members of a certain religious group to become okay because it’s part of their “religious freedom?”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:20am
  11. Huge fucking fail upholding the constitution here granting religious groups the right to discriminate minorities openly…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:21am
  12. Isn’t there something in the constitution about “Separation of church and State.”???

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:21am
  13. I feel so sorry for the gay/transgendered youth in that state :c Dont they realize that discrimination in itself is responsible for so many suicides…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:22am
  14. It doesn’t matter that this law will go anywhere, the simple sign that people have abandoned the sprit of the enlightenment means that America as a free Republic is < >

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:22am
  15. Recheck…yup, it’s 2014—really AZ!?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:22am
  16. Things will change when a gay-run business refuses to do business with “Christians”.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:23am
  17. You're right. Turn about is fair play.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:35am
  18. Arizona has always been an assbackwards place.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:23am
  19. I hate living in this fucking state; I hate the Republicans in office…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:24am
  20. can’t wait for some Federal help here! AZ is so backward!!! I’d move if I could afford to live somewhere with great weather!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:24am
  21. So they are basically saying religious people and they ” chose” those beliefs are more important than anybody else. Sick bastards!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:25am
  22. Lol!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:29am
  23. So a radical Pastafarian can refuse to serve people food items with pasta in them on religious grounds!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:29am
  24. Arizona House: “It’s 1950, our time machine works!”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:32am
  25. disappointing

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:32am
  26. The right-wing religious of America do not have a clue about the Pandora’s Box they are opening with this vitriolic and hateful legislation!! See, what you don’t get people is there are a whole lot of other religions, one that is gonna eat you alive for breakfast. When you fuck with them…they gonna turn on you, chew you up and spit your white ass out on the curb.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:32am
  27. First armpile douche face now this. Way to go az -.-

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:32am
  28. “Beefed up to mollify” LGTB critics? This remains a Jim Crow law that won’t survive the first round of litigation. Have those “legislators” no historical memory? What a waste of taxpayer money.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:32am
  29. why am i forced to live in such a ignorant state? this place is always disgracing itself. -_-

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:34am
  30. More money to fix crazy-train legislation in court. Fire those dumbasses next election.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:34am
  31. Ever feel like we are going back in fucking time?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:34am
  32. -smh-

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:36am
  33. These people that think that they are religious are so wrong because discriminating against someone for being who they are is wrong because my cousin and his partner had to deal with being discriminated against because they wanted a job but they didn’t get it because they were gay and it is just so screwed up how people treat others and they don’t even know then

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:37am
  34. Such religious beliefs remind me of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:38am
  35. :/

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:38am
  36. my religion allows me to not deal with christian bigots. it does allow me to deal with real true christians.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:39am
  37. I hate my state sometimes….

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:39am
  38. I’m disgusted at the fact that discrimination is allowed anywhere in our country. When I travel, Arizona won’t be a place on my list to visit. Sickening just sickening. Arizona is pathetic and weak.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:40am
  39. More Bigotted Hate…. Shameful!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:44am
  40. Watch them complain when they are the ones being discriminated against due to the bill. “Hey, it’s okay because it says my religion believes that your disgusting!” Would be my exact response to them. Fucking religious zealots. They are a plague.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:44am
  41. Very sad day in America

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:45am
  42. UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:49am
  43. Does that mean people can refuse service to bigoted fundamentalist “Christians” (who are actually anything BUT that)?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:52am
  44. Arizona … “A POX ON YOUR HOUSE”! … Oh I Mean THEOCRACY!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:54am
  45. That means I can discriminate against the discrimination of the religion that discriminates based on my own personal religion. Peace and love to all.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:58am
  46. There is no right wing to the right of Arizona!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:59am
  47. Some good old hate.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:02am
  48. thats kinda what we are all trying to stop damn it!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:04am
  49. Arizona Mental Ward on the Loose again.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:07am
  50. Considering the ratio of gays to christians, chances are the gay business would be happy to do business with christian as long as they don’t run in spewing hate or telling them they aren’t normal by someone who quotes a thousands of years old book.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:08am
  51. Take them to court! The United States Constitution expressly forbids the promotion of any religion! Separation of Church and State! It’s the supreme law of the land!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:19am
  52. Yayy… once again, let the corporations decide who the “real” humans are…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:19am
  53. That’s just fine– I don’t know which business are bigoted, and now it’ll be really clear. I don’t want my money going to bigots anyway.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:20am
  54. be careful when you start to allow discrimination, some day it could be you being discriminated against under the same laws you proposed…not my rule, just learned it from the thing called the PAST! IDIOTS!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:24am
  55. That is backwards and discrimination. A business should not be allowed to discriminate period. Religion and discrimination is a choice. Arizona is justifying that choice and allowing serogation to repeat itself. Its also Unconstitional. Plus its going to cost the state billions of dollars from all the law suits this is going to cause.and yes the state will be held accountable because they gave the go ahead to discriminate. I can see the signs on the door now.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:33am
  56. This stuff has to stop. Discrimination should not be allowed no matter what

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:40am
  57. I need to move. Fifth largest city in America and we’re still a Podunk, ass backward shit hole

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:48am
  58. Jamie Michelle Ramirez I agree with you about Arizona but thats why you should stay here and help with the fight.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:54am
  59. A little piece of paper called the US Constitution calls for Separation of Church & State & also Equality for All. Religion has no business setting a law of discrimination. That discrimination can go back on them by saying they can not go or buy anything owned by a non religious person. There are millions of companies owned by Buddhist, Muslims, Hindus, better do your research before buying a bed.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:54am
  60. Incredibly bad!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 2:55am
  61. Tragic!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:16am
  62. smh

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:17am
  63. Of course they did. They are fucktards, en masse.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:19am
  64. Tax the churches!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:21am
  65. The religious right hitting the fear-mongering really hard these days. They really do need to get a grip!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:24am
  66. unconstitutional.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:28am
  67. Ass hats

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:28am
  68. … I hate this state… I hate that I live here.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:32am
  69. REPUBLICAN ASSHOLES!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:37am
  70. People are having a hard enough time to get jobs….pathetic…..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:43am
  71. So, Atheists could refuse service to Christians, Muslim and other religions. You’re opening a can of worms people! This could get interesting.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:52am
  72. dumber and dumberer

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:52am
  73. I say we boycott any of these businesses and give our money to non bigots . true Christians are giving, hospitable to strangers and non judgmental. these idiots are all ways throwing stones and I would venture to say all have plenty of sin to go around ! where’s the love ?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:52am
  74. And the Church thinks they will be able to draw people to them? They disgust me…I’d rather stay in my closet and worship…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:01am
  75. I’m so glad I no longer live there! How is this legal? If a bunch of Christians were being discriminated against they would be going nuts!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:08am
  76. Smfh

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:54pm
  77. Still discriminatory. Religion and government are supposed to be separate.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:55pm
  78. Oh shitballs more idiocy to go through damnit

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:56pm
  79. It’s about time! I’ve been waiting for the country to erode to this point. Finally, I can move to Arizona and raise hell at Jehovah’s witnesses that woke me up on Saturday mornings!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:56pm
  80. Has everyone forgotten separation of church and state???

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:57pm
  81. Shit….do these straight people have nothing better to do with their time????

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:59pm
  82. Why are Xians so hateful? Also-what about other-than-LGBT discrimination based on religious belief, and other than Xian beliefs? Example: I’m a Dianic Wiccan, can I hang a sign “all service refused to white Xian heterosexual male bigot scum-have a nice day!” outside my shop?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:00pm
  83. So a catholic hospital can refuse to treat a muslim patient, or a baptist patient, or a gay patient. How about a jewish doctor refusing to treat a Catholic patient? I guess pagans can discriminate against any Christian for any services? Seperation of church and state is just a long forgotten dream.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:01pm
  84. I’m so glad that I don’t live in Arizona. Arizona is a hater state. There judgment day will be coming.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:01pm
  85. This is unbelievable. I

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:01pm
  86. am at a complete loss of words.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:02pm
  87. Go home Arizona, you’re drunk…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:02pm
  88. It won’t pass constitutional muster. But, it does show how vile christians are.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:03pm
  89. They're against constitutional mustard.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:11pm
  90. Well, then, constitutional ketchup!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:11pm
  91. I’ll grab the popcorn, Cause this is going to turn interesting real quick

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:04pm
  92. Wow… now can someone oppose this so the Supreme Court can get involved.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:05pm
  93. You’ve got to be kidding me. Making it legal to hate someone based on what their bible says? IT’S A BOOK FOR FUCK SAKE!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:07pm
  94. Really this is so screwed up.what next turn away people with tattoos or With earrings because it against their religion too.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:07pm
  95. hello, this is the United States of America. We have a separation of church and state. This is unconstitutional.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:09pm
  96. Let’s go discriminate against some xtians.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:11pm
  97. So I take all the churches in Arizona are gonna start paying taxes and loose their exemption status???

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:13pm
  98. So that means I can discriminate against stupidity and ignorace….alright!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:13pm
  99. Shameful legislation.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:15pm
  100. Arizona is just keeps losing their damn mind at every turn….their like the crazy old relative that you try to put away…but they somehow keep popping up on your door steep.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:15pm
  101. good grief ! – it will not last as this kinda thing is destroying organised religion.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:17pm
  102. boo!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:19pm
  103. poor sad religious idiots… The Tea Party

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:27pm
  104. This type of thing scares me to death.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:29pm
  105. Fuckers.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:35pm
  106. THIS DOESNT MUSTER

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:39pm
  107. Could we just stop discriminatory laws all together?! Lets just recognize that people are people and being a bigot does not help anything… america needs a lesson in humility.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:42pm
  108. I hate my state

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:51pm
  109. Crazy!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:53pm
  110. I’m done with my country.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:54pm
  111. !!!!SDRAWKCAB GNIVOM ETATS A FO SNGIS

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:59pm
  112. DEAR ARIZONA, UP YOURS!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:03pm
  113. Everyone’s money is green! Why would you turn away business because the person is gay?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:03pm
  114. This is bad policy in my opinion. While I support the “refusal of service” doctorine in retail, this is above the pale. This allows a religion to dictate overuling discrimnation laws. If a religion stated that black people were subhuman and should not be associated with (extreme, but look at the Westboro Baptist Church) them this would allow them to refuse service to all blacks based on religion. You would possibly counter that that would be a cult, but not a religion. But then you would have the question of who decides what a valid religion is. Establishing certain religions as ‘valid’ is hard to seperate from establishing a religion as ‘official’, which is expressly forbiden in the constitution.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:05pm
  115. Hit weather is getting your brains Idiots

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:17pm
  116. Total B S.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:27pm
  117. Right! That’ll fly right past the Constitution.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:47pm
  118. wow… anyone else really surprised? Me either

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:51pm