A controversial bill that allows business owners to use their religious beliefs to refuse service to gay patrons passed the Arizona legislature on Thursday. Supporters of the bill say the legislation is a way for churches, businesses or individuals to maintain their religious freedom by not being forced to do something that violates their religious beliefs.
The bill was written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom. Opponents have called the bill a license to discriminate and say it could effectively ban gays and lesbians from entering businesses or being employed by companies based solely on their sexual orientation.
Gays and lesbians are not protected from discrimination under Arizona law. Similar legislation has been brought up in several other states including Kansas and South Dakota but the Arizona bill is believed to be the first of its kind to pass.
The bill is now being sent to Gov. Jan Brewer for a signature but she has not indicated whether she will sign it. A signed bill will likely lead to a long and costly court challenge.
Should Gov. Brewer sign the bill knowing it will likely lead to an expensive court battle? Does the Arizona bill go too far in protecting religious liberties?
Andrea Kelly, Government and Politics Reporter, Arizona Public Media
Jude Joffe-Block, reporter with KJZZ