Arizona’s religious freedom bill (SB 1062), introduced and pushed by Republican Senator Steve Yarbrough, has been given approval from a senate committee.
The bill would allow businesses to refuse service for religious reasons, effectively giving them a “license to discriminate.”
Yarborough has said that he introduced the bill because a “modest clarification” was needed in Arizona’s religious freedom law.
Yarborough acknowledged to reporter Howard Fischer that the bill’s impact could reach as widely as hotels refusing rooms to LGBT people, or individuals discriminating against unmarried women, or refusing employment to individuals with different beliefs.
He claims that, just like the current pharmacy law in place, which allows pharmacists to decline service based on religious preferences (such as refusing to sell birth control), as long as individuals could find what they need elsewhere it should not pose a problem.
The conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy is pushing the bill in order to protect photographers and bakers from having to provide their services at gay weddings, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is not currently legal in Arizona.
Critics argue that the bill is too broad, allowing people to forgo other laws whilst hiding under SB 1062, overpowering non-discrimination policies.
Despite all this, Yarborough told the Arizona Republic, “In no way does this bill allow discrimination of any kind,” claiming that legally prohibited discrimination remains prohibited.
A similar bill was vetoed last year by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, but it was passed by both the Arizona House and Senate before she barred it.