SB 1062 Supporters Urge Governor To Sign Bill

February 26, 2014

Courtesy of azleg.gov
Sen. Steve Yarbrough

Supporters of a change in the laws involving religious freedom will have one last chance Wednesday to convince Gov. Jan Brewer to sign Senate Bill 1062.

The legislation allowing businesses to refuse service based on sincerely held religious beliefs was passed in part out of concerns resulting from a New Mexico lawsuit. In that instance, a photography business was sued for refusing to take pictures at a gay wedding.

Arizona law already bars discrimination based on things like gender, race, religion and national origin. Sexual orientation, however, is not protected.

But State Sen. Steve Yarbrough, the measure’s sponsor, says a more realistic example of what would be covered would be a Jewish company that provides kosher catering being asked to provide pork at an event. He says the owners should be able to cite their religious beliefs as a defense against any lawsuit for turning away the business.

“The plaintiff in the Elaine Photography case happened to have been gay, and that was the gravamen of that whole business,” Yarbrough said. “But it's much bigger than that. It's not about gayness. It's simply about people wanting to engage in the free exercise of their religion.”

None of that has stopped the calls by Arizona businesses for Brewer to veto the measure and stop the message some say it sends, as being bad for the state’s economy. Yarbrough hopes to convince the governor it’s a good bill when he meets with her later Wednesday.