The Arizona Legislature has passed a religion bill that would allow individuals and businesses to use religious beliefs as defense against a lawsuit.
For example, a wedding photographer could decline to photograph a same-sex couple’s ceremony on the grounds of the photographer’s religious beliefs. He or she could not be sued.
House Bill 2153, which was written by conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom, has stirred up controversy with critics saying that it is discriminatory against lesbians and gays. Opponents are calling it the “right to discriminate” bill.
“Some people are uncomfortable about the cultural and legal changes that increasingly recognize gays and lesbians as equal and worthy human beings,” editors wrote in an opinion column for the Arizona Republic. “Those individuals have a right to their opinions. They have a right to follow whatever faith they choose. But using religion as an excuse to codify discrimination is wrong.”
Supporters, however, say it would protect people.
“We are trying to protect people’s religious liberties,” said Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park. “We don’t want the government coming in and forcing somebody to act against their religious sacred faith beliefs or having to sell out if you are a small-business owner.”
The bill will now be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has five days to sign it into law or veto it. If Brewer does nothing, it is allowed to become a law.
Publication Date: February 21, 2014.