Arizona Senate votes to protect religious freedom for business owners

Arizona Senate votes to protect religious freedom for business owners

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

Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, said … “This bill is not about discrimination … It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

A similar measure is awaiting a vote in the House, probably later today.

Arizona already has laws which protect individuals and businesses from any state action which substantially interferes with their right to exercise their religion. This bill extends that protection to cover what essentially are private transactions.

The push follows a decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court which said a gay couple could sue a photographer who refused on religious grounds to take pictures of their nuptials. Yarbrough’s legislation would preclude such a ruling here.

But [Democratic Senator Steve] Gallardo said this legislation makes one person’s religious freedom an attack on others.

“We all have the right to our religious beliefs,” he said.

“But I do not agree that we have the right to discriminate because of our religious beliefs,” Gallardo continued. “I do not believe we have to throw our religious beliefs to others that don’t share our same beliefs.”

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