License to discriminate: Arizona lawmakers approved a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians when such work would violate their “sincerely held” religious beliefs.
House Bill 2153 was written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom.
Under the bill, a business owner would have a defense against a discrimination lawsuit, provided a decision to deny service was motivated by a “sincerely held” religious belief and that giving such service would have substantially burdened the exercise of their religious beliefs.
The bill was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday and the GOP-led House on Thursday. The state Senate passed it on a straight party-line vote, 17 to 13. The House followed suit, 33 to 27, with two Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposition.
Arizona Democrats called the proposal “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an embarrassment.
Proponents contend the bill is about protecting religious freedom, while opponents, including Democratic lawmakers and gay activist groups, describe the bill as unconstitutional, discriminatory and divisive.
The bill is a product of Christian hate and bigotry, and is yet another example of how religion poisons everything.