Conservative Christian groups in Arizona cheered the passage Thursday of legislation that would allow individuals and businesses in the state to deny service to same-sex couples due to religious beliefs. All eyes have shifted to Governor Jan Brewer, who must now decide whether to sign the bill. Similar legislation died in Kansas last week, but has also been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
The Arizona law seems to apply to services beyond those tied to weddings, but same-sex weddings are the impetus for these bills. Specifically, they are in response to lawsuits against three different Christians who refused to photograph, bake a cake, and sell flowers for same-sex weddings. The backers of these laws claim that a Christian cannot, in good conscience, provide a good or service for a same-sex wedding because it violates the teachings of Christianity.
If these bills become law, we could see same-sex couples being denied service not just by photographers and florists, but also restaurants and hotels and pretty much anyone else who can tie their discrimination to a religious belief.