Freedom to discriminate? Controversial Arizona bill takes step toward becoming law
The Arizona state Senate approved legislation Wednesday permitting businesses in the state to refuse service to potential customers based on an owner’s religious beliefs, infuriating equal rights advocates who claim the bill legalizes LGBT discrimination.
The bill, known officially as Senate Bill 1062, was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which voted along strict party lines. State Democrats proposed eight amendments to the bill in an attempt to stop what they decried as discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, but each of those efforts failed.
The most polarizing part of the bill reads, in part:
“’Exercise of religion’ means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”