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Arizona

Ariz. House debates bill allowing discrimination against gays

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated: 3:40 p.m. MST

PHOENIX — Republicans lawmakers in Arizona want to give business owners the right to refuse service to gay patrons if doing so goes against their religious beliefs.

A bill providing such protections was on the brink of passing the GOP-dominated Arizona House on Thursday, a day after a similar measure cleared the Senate.

ArizonaDemocrats mounted a spirited defense, but don’t have the votes to stop what they call a proposal that allows “state-sanctioned discrimination.”

If House lawmakers advance the bill as expected, legislation could be headed toward Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk by the end of the day.

Brewer doesn’t comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it’s not clear whether she would support or reject this plan.

Should it become law, the legislation would allow individuals and businesses accused of discrimination to claim religious freedom as a defense. Supporters cite a New Mexico Supreme Court decision allowing a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to document their wedding as proof the protection is needed.

The bill is backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law.

“We see a growing hostility toward religion,” said Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the group.

Similar legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that is close to passing.

The legislation comes also as an increasing number of conservative states grapple with ways to counter the increasing legality of gay marriage.

Arizona’s voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008. It’s one of 29 states with such prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal judges have recently struck down bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, but those decisions are under appeal.

Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough called his proposal a First Amendment issue during the Senate debate.

“This bill is not about allowing discrimination,” Yarbrough said. “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Democrats say it is an outright attack on the rights of gays and lesbians.

“The heart of this bill would allow for discrimination versus gays and lesbians,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. “You can’t argue the fact that bill will invite discrimination. That’s the point of this bill. It is.”

The bill is similar to a proposal last year brought by Yarbrough but vetoed by Brewer. That legislation also would have allowed people or religious groups to sue if they believed they might be subject to a government regulation that infringed on their religious rights. Yarbrough stripped a provision from the bill in hopes Brewer will embrace the new version.

Civil liberties and secular groups countered that Yarbrough and the Center for Arizona Policy had sought to minimize concerns that last year’s bill had far-reaching and hidden implications. During the Senate debate Wednesday, Democrats said the bill could allow people to break nearly any law and cite religious freedom as a defense.

Yarbrough called those worries “unrealistic and unsupported hypotheticals” and said criminal laws will continue to be prosecuted by the courts.

Rep. Chad Campbell of Phoenix, the Democratic minority leader, said during debate that gays and lesbians across the country would get the message that they’re not welcome in Arizona.

“We’re telling them, ‘We don’t like you. We don’t want you here. We’re not going to protect you,” he said.< /P>

Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said the Democrats’ rhetoric was misplaced.

“Sometimes people’s rhetoric tends to inflame instead of explain,” Biggs said. “And I would suggest if there is going to be a backlash because of 1062 … it will because of the intemperate and inaccurate rhetoric.”

Arizona is one of five states where lawmakers introduced “religious freedom” bills targeting same-sex couples, mostly in response to the rapid advancement of marriage equality.

Similar bills have been defeated or withdrawn this week in South Dakota, Kansas Tennessee, and Idaho.

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75 more reader comments:

  1. AZ wake up, and stop the hate.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:02pm
  2. It’s nice that these states have so much extra money to fight the inevitable lawsuits over this stoopidity.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:06pm
  3. What is there to debate? Whether or not we are human beings and deserve respect? This whole things is disgusting.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:06pm
  4. It is disgusting. Men having butt sex is flat out the sickest image anyone could picture.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:18pm
  5. Look, a nigger talking about discrimination...

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:22pm
  6. Billy Ray Valentine - after what the black community suffered your willing to discriminate against gay people....bit ironic no?

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:51pm
  7. But Billy I thought you enjoyed giving rim jobs.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:58pm
  8. What’s to debate dumbasses? How much time and money can be wasted?

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:07pm
  9. Yeesh the more you fight, the more ridiculous you look

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:08pm
  10. Once these stupid ass inbreeding states start passing these bills 1 of 2 things if not both is going to happen. Conservative christians will welcome a Conservative Holocaust in the states and slowly round up all the homosexuals, Muslims, atheists, and anyone not conservative christian OR we will see the sectarian violence that plagues Iraq and and most of the middle east. Thanks to conservatives we can kiss America “the land of the free” good bye.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:09pm
  11. Exactly. That's why I lost respect religious nut people. I won't friendly christians anymore.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:14pm
  12. There are SOOOOO many churches here in AZ. Where I live? There are 9 churches in a four mile radius. That is just by me! Religion is certainly the problem in this issue.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:16pm
  13. Religion CREATED the issue - it is a NON issue at heart.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:07pm
  14. I wonder how long until Utah does this…

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:11pm
  15. My god says love each other. We are not morn with hate in our hearts. It is created and spread by idiots like this. My god do se not make mistakes. My god loves all his children. My god and most all religions spread the word of love. What happened tp separation of church and state? Bad enough that discrimination still exists but now to encourage it… thousands of brave soldiers have died for the freedom of the people and then az goes and pulls shit like this….what a fuckin shame. Shame on you az. Shame on you!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:11pm
  16. It wont pass, we have so many wonderful people working to support the LGBT community everywhere. Love Wins!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:11pm
  17. it passed

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:17pm
  18. What pees me off is when there worried about us gays ruining there so called life but they won’t even worry about other problems in there state like helping the homeless or something like that.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:18pm
  19. Criminal religious zealots

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:22pm
  20. What’s there to debate about? Burn that bill and throw it in the trash where it belongs.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:23pm
  21. More taxpayers’ money pissed away.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:25pm
  22. Hello, supreme court? Yeah, this is the LGBT Community in Arizona calling. What’s that? How am I doing? Not so good!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:29pm
  23. yes, this is why ARIZONA will become a BLUE state in 3 election period…

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:30pm
  24. Good. Debate it, then kill it. No more legalized segregation!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:30pm
  25. This bill fails both the “Establishment Clause” of the 1st amendment and the “Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th amendment.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:42pm
  26. I just love christians and republicans! NOT!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:42pm
  27. Dumb!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:46pm
  28. No bring gays on fuck the rest of you guys

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:54pm
  29. Typical Jan Brewer move what a disgrace to the US

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:00pm
  30. It hasn’t passed in the House yet, it has only passed in the Senate. Also this isn’t Jan Brewers doing for once Steven Resnick. She shot down a bill just like this last year, but we will see what she ends up doing with this one.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:14pm
  31. wasn’t arizona so broke a while ago that they were turning off street lights to save energy…. but now they got money to fund bills like this? what a waste of money

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:16pm
  32. The GOP basically wants every state they run to be Uganda except with racist, homophobic white guys.

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:22pm
  33. Billy Ray Valentine: most straight guys don’t picture guys having sex with guys but If you’re visualizing it maybe you’re interested in it. I find you having sex with women pretty nasty too but I’m not narrow minded enough to treat you less than human.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:22pm
  34. Stop inbreeding first, it creates brain damaged mutations, they are an example.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:29pm
  35. i grew up in america beliving in peace and tolerance but its not its war and discrimination i hate this contry

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:29pm
  36. Billy Ray Valentwat stop looking in the mirror when you are taking it up the ass.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:31pm
  37. I agree what is there to debate either we uphold the constitution or throw it out cause it’s not being followed by allowing discrimination!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:32pm
  38. Tread carefully Arizona. If you blow this, you may end up being made an example of. It won’t be pretty.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:33pm
  39. Here we go…I swear AZ is such a pain when it comes to LGBT issues. I hope enough people stand up for positive change that allows rights to all citizens as equals to all be treated as humans who share the same rights that can not be taken away, by government nor religion.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:36pm
  40. Please keep forcing the government to come up with a sweeping federal decision regarding human rights in this country.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:37pm
  41. Tar and feather these jerks!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:41pm
  42. Billy Ray Valentine, why are you picturing that image then? Jealous much? I read that trolls are all narcissistic sociopaths. I hope you get some help ♥

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:47pm
  43. ARIZONA- I refuse to give my money to businesses that will not serve my LGBTQ friends. Today I rise up and declare that I do not & will not discriminate!!!!!!

    50% OFF ALL SESSIONS TO MY LGBTQ FRIENDS. Ashley Rae Photography WELCOMES YOU!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:47pm
  44. GO girl!

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:57pm
  45. That's how it's done!

    Replied on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:07pm
  46. This is sickening!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:52pm
  47. It should fail like all the other bills of this nature have failed.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:53pm
  48. This is stoopid, I am guessing that this will be over turned when the GOP and the Xtian Reich is voted out in the coming elections.. Rights are not to be voted on, Rights should be automatically a given.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:55pm
  49. This is segregation! Last time I checked it was 2014.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:06pm
  50. And watch legislation such as this fail in the courts….

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:08pm
  51. These asshats need to get a frickin life already. Enough of this tired, nauseatingly boorish bullshit.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:13pm
  52. Ah, religion. It’s what is holding back Arizona. There are more churches in AZ then Starbucks in Seattle. More and more being built every day!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:14pm
  53. is that constitutional. to be against human rights..?

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:17pm
  54. I hate that I live in this state. :( as long as we’re here, my lil family will never have full rights.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:18pm
  55. n than the public will have to wear a sign saying straight or gay?LMAO

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:22pm
  56. SOUNDS LIKE REPUBLICANS TO ME,THEIR ALWAYS TRYING TO STOP ANYTHING GOOD!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:25pm
  57. This shouldn’t be debated!!!! All people deserve equality, respect, love, and many other RIGHTS. These are not privileges, they are rights.. and the Republicans need to quit trying to turn this into a country of haters and a Nirvana for Republicans who hate anyone and everyone who isn’t exactly like them.. bigoted and hateful.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:26pm
  58. Rep. Steve Yarbrough is a muther fucker…

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:31pm
  59. Come on AZ!! This is downright ridiculous! Discrimination is discrimination no matter how u dress it up! If u operate a business then u shouldn’t be allowed to turn people away because of religious beliefs.. Disgusting..

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:33pm
  60. Shame on you, ARIZONA!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:43pm
  61. VERY well said, JAN BECK McCLELLAND!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:45pm
  62. Your in an economic crisis why is the government so afraid of gays what stupid officials they should be tard and feathered!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:47pm
  63. When the bill is defeated, it should come out of these legislators paychecks, and not the AZ taxpayers pocket.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:57pm
  64. It’s not being debated… this bill just passed.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:58pm
  65. They passed the bill. Boycott Arizona! Tax the damned churches! End christian tyranny! Rid America of the evangelical cancer! Rid America of the Republican pestilence!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:59pm
  66. Any business that participates in this discrimination will find itself on the Rotten Fish List where all friend and members of the Gay Community can see who not to support.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:02pm
  67. Shame them – boycott – do NOT visit or promote AZ in any way. Like Putin, they are a minority who just hate losing.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:05pm
  68. Another loss in federal court …why waste tax payers money for this BS

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:14pm
  69. Insanity in the Desert.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:18pm
  70. So let me see if I have this correct,,, THEY ARE LEGALIZING DISCRIMINATION?

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:24pm
  71. The house had better table this bill.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:25pm
  72. What part of that pesky US Constitution don’t these asswipes understand? Such a waste of time & money. Did AZ suddenly fix the poverty, lack if jobs problems?

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:27pm
  73. HORRIBLE.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:32pm
  74. how can anyone allow discrimination? how can that be made a law?

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:33pm
  75. time to fight back with legal legislation of our own, you should support the Bill of Freedom to be placed next to the Bill of rights and finally define freedom and make it law http://wickedwingsrc.com/Freedom.html

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:45pm