PHOENIX (CN) - The Arizona Senate this week passed a Republican-backed bill that would allow people and businesses to refuse to serve homosexuals, for religious reasons.
Democrats and civil rights groups, including the ACLU, said Senate Bill 1062 would hurt Arizona's economy by, for instance, causing groups to cancel conventions and hold them elsewhere.
Sponsor Steve Yarbrough of Chandler told the Arizona Republic, "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."
The people living out their faith, presumably, would be the businessmen and -women who disapprove of the way other people have sex.
The Arizona Senate approved the bill 17-13 on a party line vote.
Remarkably, that made Arizona's Senate even more retrograde than Kansas, where Democrats and Republicans in that state's Senate killed a similar bill - which had been approved by the state House. Among the groups that opposed the Kansas bill was the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
Arizona Democrats said Yarbrough's bill would institutionalize discrimination.
Pundits observed that, if enacted, it almost certainly would be found unconstitutional as soon as refusal of service in an interstate business occurred, such as transportation.
Arizona did lost millions of dollars in convention business after it passed a similar law in 2010, SB 1070, which allowed refusal of service to undocumented people. The 9th Circuit found key portions of that law unconstitutional.
ACLU executive director Alessandra Soler blasted Yarbrough and SB1062 in a statement, saying: "This bill is not about God or faith. There are already laws on the books in Arizona protecting religious freedom. What today's bill does is allow private individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate, sending a message that Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming."
The bill was expected to be passed by the state House, which also is controlled by Republicans, and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
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