Socially Conservative Bills Pass Arizona Legislature

Arizona lawmakers have been very busy the past couple of weeks, passing bills of a socially conservative nature. Gay rights activists and pro-choice proponents have expressed outrage at the latest decisions the legislature has made.

Protests against Arizona anti-gay bill
Photo by Cheryl Evans/AP

Anti-Gay legislation

SB 1062, a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service for gays and lesbians, was passed by both houses of the state legislature last month under the auspices of protecting “religious freedom.”

Supporters of the bill said that business owners with strong religious beliefs should not be forced to serve members of the LGBT community. The Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that pushed for the bill’s passage, said the purpose of the bill was to clarify existing state law and to protect against activist courts.

Following SB 1062’s passage, numerous people around the country from both major political parties came out in opposition. Critics included Arizona Senator John McCain, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the MLB, the Super Bowl host committee, and three state senators who voted for the bill and changed their minds.

Last Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. Read her statement here.

Anti-Abortion legislation

The day after SB 1062 was vetoed, the legislature advanced a bill that would permit surprise inspections of the state’s abortion clinics. The bill, SB 2284, also requires clinics to report ““whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion.” Finally, according to The Center for Arizona Policy, the bill would make it a crime to help minors obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Proponents of “The Women’s Health Protection Act” say its goal is to protect the safety of women, but critics say it’s part of an effort to close down as many abortion clinics in the state as possible. ThinkProgress had this to say about the bill and others like it:

“Enacting these type of laws simply gives abortion opponents the opportunity to trigger state investigations — and, depending on the political affiliations of the people who serve on state health boards, this can be an avenue to force clinics out of business.”

A final House vote on SB 2284 has been postponed until next week.

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