Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

On Thursday, Arizona State Rep. Steve Yarbrough's proposed legislation that, if passed, would allow businesses to refuse services to the LGBT community on the basis of religious freedom passed the Senate Committee on Government and Education.

The bill, SB1062, could be used to protect business that discriminate not only again the LGBT community but also unmarried women or those of different religions. According to Rep. Yarbrough, SB1062 could broadly be interpreted to allow, for example, a motel to refuse service to a same-sex couple on the grounds that it would “substantially burden” their freedom of religion.

Despite the bill's progress, an overwhelming majority of Americans do not agree with Rep. Yarbrough’s proposed “license to discriminate.”  In an August HRC/Third Way poll, 69 percent of those surveyed in 2013 believed business should not be able to refuse services to the LGBT community.  And 57 percent believed businesses providing services for a same-sex couple’s wedding was “simply fulfilling a contact for services” rather than a public endorsement.

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