Yesha Callahan

Arizona Senate Passes Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse Service to Gays Based on Religious Beliefs


Arizona’s Senate has voted 17-13 to approve a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs.

The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation. Sen. Steve Yarbrough (pictured), R-Chandler, said that’s a separate issue from what he is trying to do.

But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said that’s precisely the issue.

“The bill opens the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians,” he said.

Yarbrough, however, said foes of SB 1062 are twisting what his legislation says.

“This bill is not about discrimination,” he said. “It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Over the last couple of years, as same sex couples have been given the right to marry, Christian business (and some non-Christian) owners are disturbed at the fact that they have to provide same sex couples services that they provide to heterosexual customers. There have been several reports of business owners refusing to bake cakes, allow same sex couples to patronize their bed and breakfasts, as well as refusing to provide floral services.Some have refused these services under the guise of their “conscience” not allowing them to.

According to the bill, “SB 1062 would allow businesses sued in a civil case to claim they have a legal right to not provide service to an individual or group because it would “substantially burden’’ their freedom of religion.”

Read the text of the bill here.

The House is set to vote on a matching bill imminently.

  1. February 21, 2014 - Reply

    I know there are lawyers in line and foaming at the mouth to be the one that challenges this nonsense.

    If you own a business open to the public, that means that you qualify for and utilize public taxpayer monies for things like business tax credits. You can not then turn around and refuse to serve the very taxpayers who make those tax credits possible.

    Can’t have it both ways, either you make your business a “private” one so you can discriminate all you want, but get NO tax assistance or other perks of owning a public business…or serve ALL of the public, including those who do not share your religious beliefs.

    Furthermore, the slippery slope that bills like this create should be VERY scary…especially to historically disenfranchised minorities. I have heard quite a few folks who call themselves Christian and try to use the Bible to argue against interracial relationships. So now, in Arizona, if that florist, or baker, or reception hall owner does not “religiously agree” with interracial relationships….no flowers/cake/reception hall for you.

    Have you and your future husband had sex before marriage? Well, your travel agent does not agree with that on religious grounds, so no cruises or land packages offered to you.

    Are you on birth control? Well, the craft store that you frequent is owned by Catholics who do not agree…no beads or construction paper for you.

    It is dangerous territory (and I won’t even get into the constitutionality of it)…which is why (hopefully)it will be laughed out of the courtroom by the federal judge who oversees the challenge that is surely coming.


  2. February 21, 2014 - Reply

    These FAKE Christians might want to reread what Jesus said:

    Matthew 22:39 “… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”

  3. February 21, 2014 - Reply

    Even if you don’t care for gay relationship you should still feel that this isn’t right? If it gays people today, who will they be refusing service to tomorrow.

  4. February 21, 2014 - Reply

    OMG this is terrible! I cannot STAND when people hide behind religion to do their dirty work. *smh*

  5. February 22, 2014 - Reply

    There is some validity to this law. But first, I think we need to be realistic about homosexuality and how it is understood. It may be “religiously” correct for people to say that “a sin is a sin” but the truth of the matter is that most people weigh homosexuality far greater than some sexual “sins” particularly, fornication. Homosexuality is considered an “abomination”; however, while fornication is forbidden– it is not considered abhorrent or detestable like homosexuality.

    As it relates to the law, I understand how same-sex counseling and establishments like a bed and breakfast can be an issue for people practicing their faith because it is directly contrary to most religious doctrines which specifically teaches against homosexuality. If your organization or establishment is religious based that’s a legitimate concern.

  6. February 22, 2014 - Reply

    @buttons i think you should read the other comments and come back after. they express some legitimate concerns that seem to fly over your head. have a good week end

  7. February 22, 2014 - Reply

    @ eve-Audrey

    I actually read all of them and my points remain. It’s too bad that you are offended and that you can’t handle disagreement. But, perhaps you should gather your emotions and realize that people’s religious views are not a personal affront to homosexuals. Wise and rational thinking people understand that homosexuality/gay marriage is a serious issue that comes with many nuances that have to be addressed and the new marriage laws may impose upon or impact people’s freedom to exercise their faith.

    Interracial marriage is a cultural belief, not a religious one.

    Travel agents don’t check for marriage licenses before they book vacations.

    Catholics who sell crafts have nothing to do with their customer’s use of birth control. (Nor do they have any way of knowing if they are using it)

    However, the Christian marriage counselor whose beliefs strictly teaches against homosexuality being forced by law to counsel same sex couples is an area that is in “direct” opposition to a person’s faith.

    Gay marriage is the dangerous territory because it is changing the entire social order. Once the gay community stops pressing everybody to accept their lifestyle and comprehend that it’s not personal but principle then they will see things more clearly.

    • February 24, 2014 - Reply



      Since I am seeing the the examples that I utilized in my post in your response, let me clarify. This law has ZERO nuance. Meaning that it does NOT MATTER if “travel agents check marriage licenses” or not…it you are setting up your trip and in conversation happen to mention, for instance, “ I can’t wait for play time in Aruba” (with a telling wink) to your mate…and the agent innocently asks if you are married…you say no….she CAN STOP THE TRANSACTION RIGHT THERE. She disapproved of your pre-marital sex “on religious grounds” and can refuse to service you further. It has nothing to do with if it is their “job” or not. Same with my “craft store” argument.

      Morover, people who oppose interracial marriage absolutely HAVE done so on religious grounds (See Pastor Donny Reagan for example), whether it is a “religious issue” or not. The law says NOTHING of it having to be a “religious issue”…just that they oppose serving the patron “on religious grounds” …they are not the same. I made these points to illustrate how a law aimed at “gays” can very much affect those of us who are not. ..and the point remains valid.

      Lastly, the “Christian marriage counselor” that does not want to serve the general public (including those whose sexuality she does not agree with) should perhaps think of making her business a private one. Those gay people that she refuses to serve make IT POSSIBLE for her to have a PUBLIC therapy office.

      As I stated, my point is that this law creates a scary slippery slope that folks ESPECIALLY AMERICAN BLACK FOLKS…should be very uncomfortable with.

      Let’s remember…there was a time laws like these were used on US.

  8. February 23, 2014 - Reply

    @ buttons it’s not your place to determine what religious beliefs are and what they are not. if someone wants to argue that god is against interaracial relationships then trust it they’ll find every “proof” they need in the bible the quran or the torah. history has shown us that religion can be used for the worst purposes (do i need to remind you that SOME religious people condoned slavery because god didn’t create people to be equal? do i need to remind you that in the 21st century a priest refused to marry an interracial couple in YOUR country? do i need to remind you that you live in a country where that kind of law is a slippery slope? the problem is not religious people who are truly sincerely concerned about their beliefs and do not mean harm. the problem are the bigots who use religion as a tool to justify their ugly beliefs. i can see it in france. when the law allowing gay people to marry was passed it brought all the bigots out the woods. the french justice secretary who is the “mother” of this law is black and quite disgusting adjectives were thrown her way. it’s sad you don’t understand this. and i quite know how to not let my emotions hinder my capacity to think thank you.

  9. February 23, 2014 - Reply

    @ eve-audrey

    I have no idea where or how to respond to what you just said, you are all over the place. But, I will try. First, for the sake of time (and total confusion),I’m going to leave the interracial marriage point alone because it’s really not the issue.

    Second, what gay folks call bigots (homophobes, haters, etc.) is anyone who disagrees with them. So, I give very little credence to those kind of labels and accusations when it comes from the LGBT community.

    Lastly, the gay community fights ferociously to be understood, but they fail miserably at understanding.
    The day the gay community decides to have respect for and understand other people’s viewpoints, that will be their “Aha” moment.

    • February 24, 2014 - Reply


      I support your comments 1000%

  10. February 23, 2014 - Reply

    I support Buttons’ comments 100%.

  11. February 24, 2014 - Reply

    I thought that all businesses had the right to refuse the service of anyone at any time for any reason? I believe that every business owner should have this right and I don’t think it is fair for government to intervene in this right.

    But think about it: why would you want to give your money, your main means of power in a capitalist society, to someone who does not support your beliefs? More businesses need to publicize what they are for and/or against. Don’t like Black people? PUT THAT ON YOUR FRONT DOOR. Don’t like gays? PUT THAT ON YOUR WEBSITE. Think women are inferior to men? PUT THAT IN YOUR COMMERCIAL. Hold businesses accountable. They want to be corporate citizens, treat them that way. And when they don’t want to support the things that are important to you, don’t give them your business. Use your money to empower those who support your beliefs.

    • February 24, 2014 - Reply


      “But what it pretty much comes down to is if a business chooses not to serve gays or any other group of people for whatever reason and you don’t like it then don’t go there.”

      Seriously? Can you imagine if those who fought tooth and nail for the end of Jim Crow thought that way? So, instead of fighting discrimination…Blacks should have just shut up and “not gone there?”

      Movie theater doesn’t serve Blacks…just shut up and don’t go there.

      Prestigious University not admitting Blacks that worked for and deserve it? Well, just bow your head and don’t go there…

      Lunch counter snubbing you? Sorry Greensboro Four…you guys should have just “shut up and not gone there”…end of story.

      You don’t fight discrimination by doing nothing. You raise hell. You put a spotlight on it…even if let folks know WHY.

      What has happened to us that we are NOW willing to passively let injustice ( of ANY kind) be promoted?

    • February 24, 2014 - Reply


      “I thought that all businesses had the right to refuse the service of anyone at any time for any reason”


      “The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

      If the patron is in what is called a “Protected Class” you cannot discriminate in the public domain against providing the same service provided to those not in protected class. That is why it is illegal for Best Buy to put up a “No Blacks Allowed” sign. They would NOT be able to do as you state, and refuse service for ANY reason. Furthermore, when they DO refuse service to someone not in the protected classes, it HAS to based on whether the business’s refusal of service was arbitrary, or whether the business had a specific interest in refusing service.

      “I don’t think it is fair for government to intervene in this right.”

      Well bless your heart…especially if you are Black. The government intervened in Jim Crow laws here in the South by passing the Federal Civil Rights Act, which outlawed them across the board. So sad you would have been against them doing so and allowing Blacks to stay at the back of the bus and locked out of most businesses…b/c of those racist business owners “rights”.


    • February 24, 2014 - Reply


      **This comment meant for Nicole, not imablackpoem**

  12. February 24, 2014 - Reply

    Yes this is terrible. But what it pretty much comes down to is if a business chooses not to serve gays or any other group of people for whatever reason and you don’t like it then don’t go there. End of story.

  13. February 24, 2014 - Reply


    I’m am very sympathetic to gays struggles… BUT let’s not compare homosexuals struggles to blacks. You can’t look at someone and see that their gay but you can defiantly look at me and see I’m black.
    Yes IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DONT GO THERE. Go to the next restaurant. It’s not like anyone is out here lynching gays and bombing their homes. It’s 2014 people are more accepting and I’m sure for every restaurant that’s not welcoming gays due to their religion there’s 10 that will.

    It seems like these days if your not down with the gay rights movement everyone’s mad at you.

    • February 25, 2014 - Reply



      Your post is very sad. People aren’t bombing gay’s homes…so it is ok for legal discrimination to passed?

      Seriously? It is not about “being down” for any movement…it is about BASIC DECENCY…and treating all citizens as WE expect to be matter our sexuality.

      Where did we lose THAT basic premise and value?

  14. February 25, 2014 - Reply

    Careful now, everyone. “If you don’t like it, don’t go there” was told to black people, too. On the other hand, in that time when there was nothing for us, so that wasn’t even an option. Different now.

    • February 25, 2014 - Reply


      No, it is not “different”. In the 50’s and 60’s…we HAD other places to go…and Blacks did patronize those Black-owned establishments…but they ALSO fought the racist ones! I am from North Carolina…and Blacks, even in the small towns, did not usually have “nothing”. There WAS a Black mechanic, a Black church, theater, grocer, colleges etc…please dont’ think they fought because they had NO choice. There WERE choices. They just took a higher road than many of their descendants are willing to do today. That is called courage.

      We, as a people, have lost our fire. We are now a “well, it doesn’t affect me so I don ‘t care” community.

      That is pathetic and disappointing on so many levels.

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