Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona may be First to Sign in Legal Discrimination for Religious Citizens

by Brig Bagley

25 February 2014

For a few days now, the shocking news that Arizona legislature has passed a law allowing for business owners to deny service to gays and lesbians on grounds or religious belief has kept many on their toes. The bill wouldn't become law until Governor Jan Brewer signs the bill. She returns to AZ today from a trip to Washington. It is still unclear whether she will sign the bill, or veto it.

At least 3 of the GOP senators in the state have changed their mind on the bill, saying it wasn't what they thought it was when it was first presented. One admitted it was a mistake and he will do everything he can to repair it.  

Arizona is the only state to successfully pass such a bill, even though many other states have tried and failed for various reasons. A well known conservative group, Center for Arizona Policy, has pushed for the bill and stands as the primary supporter. Several businesses, Apple Inc. and American Airlines Group included, strongly oppose the bill and urge Brewer to veto the bill. The companies claim that the bill will drive many businesses away, scare others from coming to AZ, and hurt the tourist aspect of the state. 

As expected, LGBT groups have adamantly opposed and protested the bill in peaceful gatherings since its passing. It is being called "legalized discrimination", allowing religious people to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws. Supporters of the bill frequently use the cases against the photographer and cake-baker that were sued for denying business to gay couples, saying they want to protect such businesses from being shut down. But the states that held these cases have laws protecting LGBT as a sub-class, where AZ does not, making the bill at the very least redundant, and mostly discriminate. 

Whether AZ becomes the first to "protect the discrimination from religious people" will become clear possibly later today.

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