Two weeks ago Arizona GOP state Rep. Steve Yarborough introduced a bill that would legalize discrimination against LGBT people on the grounds of religious beliefs. Today that bill was approved by an Arizona House committee.
Critics told the committee that the bill’s primary purpose is to allow discrimination against gays. “It most decisively takes away reasonable protections people have from the imposition of the religious beliefs of other upon them,” Erica Keppler, a transgendered woman, said in an interview. Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth called the concerns false, saying the changes were needed to protect Arizonans from judges across the country who have allowed lawsuits against people who say their religious beliefs led them to refuse service to someone. He pointed to a New Mexico case where a gay couple was allowed to sue a photographer who refused to document their wedding. “Trust me. It’s coming. This isn’t one isolated case,” Farnsworth said. Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy, said the proposal is simply an effort to clarify protections already in state law, and it is not discriminatory. That is fear-mongering and a distraction from what this bill is really intended to be, and that it’s about religious liberty, ensuring that in America, people are free to live and work according to their faith,” he said.
The bill is being supported by Alliance Defending Freedom and the Arizona Catholic Conference. (Tipped by JMG reader Wayne)