The Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 1062, a measure that would allow businesses to reject service to any customer based on the owners’ religious beliefs.
The bill reads: "Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
Arizona Democrats, who argue the legislation is a way to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, sponsored eight amendments in an attempt to thwart the legislation -- all of which were rejected by Senate Republicans.
"SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom," state Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar said in a statement Wednesday. "With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."
As testament to the bill’s mission, state Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R), one of three lawmakers sponsoring the bill, cited a 2013 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that banned wedding photographers from refusing to shoot same-sex ceremonies, according to the Associated Press.