Controversial bill makes headway in AZ - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Controversial bill makes headway in AZ

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The bill that some are calling the "License to Discriminate" is trending online.

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a controversial bill expanding the rights of people to assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others.

All Republicans but two voted for the bill and all Democrats voted against it.

Democrats and civil rights groups said it would allow businesses to discriminate.

The state Senate passed the bill after nearly two hours of debate Wednesday.

Republican Senator Steve Yarbrough said his bill is a First Amendment issue. Democrats said its an outright attack on the gay community.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for a signature or a veto. She hasn't said anything publicly about what she'll do.

Lawmakers in support of the legislation say the bill protects businesses with religious beliefs so they can't be sued in case the states allow same-sex marriage there in the future.

This Arizona legislation came from a case in New Mexico where a gay couple sued a wedding photographer who refused to work their wedding.

Other parts of the country are facing similar legislation, but Arizona seems to be the only state moving forward with it.

Lawmakers in Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota and Tennessee either rejected or backtracked similar bills this week.

There are reports an Idaho group of gay rights activists was arrested at the state capitol today for protesting the legislation similar to Arizona's.

All of these bills are proposed at a time when there's a growing marriage equality movement across the U.S.

Same-sex civil unions are now legal in 17 states and in Washington, D.C. Courts have also struck down same-sex marriage bans in three states.

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