Discrimination

02.21.14

Arizona Anti-Gay Bill Advances

A controversial bill in Arizona, which would allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers based on religious beliefs, passed the state house on a near party-line vote Thursday.

The Arizona legislature passed a bill Thursday that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians, provided that it was the result of a sincerely held religious belief. House Bill 2153/Senate Bill 1062 would protect businesses from lawsuits if they refuse to serve customers based on religious beliefs. The bill passed the state house by a vote of 33-27, with all but three Republicans voting for and all Democrats voting against. It had previously passed the Arizona State Senate on a party line vote. The bill's fate is now up to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who can either sign or veto it.

Business interests in the Grand Canyon State have asked Brewer to veto the bill. They fear the bill's passage would discourage corporations from relocating to Arizona as well as risk a boycott of major events scheduled to occur in the state, including the Super Bowl. Brewer vetoed a previous iteration of the bill in 2013. 

Other states have consided similar legislation. Most notably, Kansas has received national attention in recent days for a comparable bill that passed its house before failing in the state senate. But Arizona would be the first state to enact such legislation.