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'Jesus didn't turn anyone away'; Proposed AZ law pits religious freedoms against gay rights

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'Jesus didn't turn anyone away'; Proposed AZ law pits religious freedoms against gay rights

By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jan 20, 2014

TUCSON (KGUNG9-TV) - It is a discussion that has the world on edge and a reality star in hot water.
Now the state of Arizona, again, finds itself at the forefront of the gay rights debate.
At issue:  Can a business owner refuse service to a customer because of who they love?
Legally business owners can refuse service to anyone, but there are precedents protecting you from discrimination based on gender, race but not sexuality.
Whether it's president putin's pre-Olympic comparison or the Bachelor's take on a gay successor, battles over gay rights are brewing far and wide.
Arizona is no exception.
"We have civil rights in this country for good reason," Kate Randall, co-owner of Antigone Books.
Randall has never been refused service for being gay.
She worries a newly proposed law could open the floodgates.
"This proposed law to me says that businesses don't have to uphold civil rights if they don't feel like it," said Randall.
Senate Bill 1062 is the work of republican State Senator Steve Yarbrough.
It would allow business owners to refuse service to anyone, if doing so would 'substantially burden' their religious freedom.
Yarbrough has said the law is intended to prevent civil suits.
Back in August New Mexico's highest court found a Christian wedding photographer had discriminated against a gay couple, by refusing to shoot a gay wedding.
"Jesus didn't turn anyone away.  Why would we?" said Susan Dowler.
Dowler's beliefs are important to her, too.
Still, the owner of Trinity bookstore on Fort Lowell isn't about to turn away business.
"We don't interview them when they come through the door to see if they qualify to buy," she said.  "We're just happy that any customer would come through the door."
This bill is almost a carbon copy of one approved by the legislature last year, only to be vetoed by Governor Brewer, not because of the bill itself, but because she wanted lawmakers to first tackle the state budget and Medicaid.