Arizona passes controversial religious discrimination bill

Despite outcry, the Arizona legislature has passed the controversial religious discrimination bill, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and has sent it off for Governor Jan Brewer to sign.

The vote for the bill in the House followed party lines, reports Arizona Capitol Times. It previously passed in the Senate. Three Republicans did vote against the bill, with the final count going 33-27.

The bill aims to allow business owners the right to turn others away based upon religious beliefs, which many have contended will simply give these owners the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians - and possibly others.

Some representatives were able to add in amendments to the bill, which excluded higher education, taxis and renting from using religion as a reason to discriminate.

According to CNN, the bill has seen plenty of outcry, and some are worried that if Brewer signs it into law, it could hurt the state economically like with SB 1070.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has pressed upon the governor to veto the bill noting, "legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come." The council points out that the upcoming Super Bowl in Arizona could see boycotts.

The Center for Arizona Policy, who favors the bill said, "As we witness hostility towards people of faith grow like never before, we must take this opportunity to speak up for religious liberty."

Others, like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argue the bill simply "fling[s] the door wide open to discrimination."

The ACLU has also decried the bill, noting that the state has decided to announce to the rest of the country that "Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming."

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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