House Committee Votes To Allow Refusal Of Service Based On Religious Beliefs

February 05, 2014

A state House Committee Tuesday voted to increase the rights of individuals and the businesses they own to refuse to provide services based on their religious beliefs. The measure expands existing protections to people with sincerely held religious beliefs to those facing civil suits from people claiming to be the victims of discrimination. But, Representative Martin Quezada says he worries the bill will essentially legitimize the practice.

“This clearly allows anyone who should normally comply with state or local laws that are neutral to claim that those laws burden their religious beliefs,” Quezada said.

Representative Eddie Farnsworth says the bill attempts to protect business owners from doing anything that would violate their faith, something he calls a matter of tolerance.

“But the other side doesn't want that,” Farnsworth said. “They want the tolerance to be I'm going to tolerate their opinion and my opinion counts for nothing.”

Both sides agree the measure will do nothing to take away the rights of gays, since under Arizona law, they have no special protections. That means there’s no basis to sue an individual or business owner on a claim of discrimination because of sexual orientation.