Controversial Arizona bill sparking debate - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Controversial Arizona bill sparking debate

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has a big decision to make. Some political allies want her to sign a bill that's sparked protests.

The bill allows business owners, with strong religious beliefs, to refuse service to gays. But, critics of the bill say that it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

And even some lawmakers, who voted for it, now want a veto.

The bill has sparked debate in many other states, including here in Alabama.

Even though this is not an Alabama bill, many local business owners were hesitant to comment. It was also difficult to get a legal perspective. But, it's certainly a talker on social media and people who did comment are shocked the bill even exists.

The bill has many people in disbelief.

"I actually thought you were kidding. I can't even imagine in 2014 that somebody's even thinking in that direction." Paul Gagliano says it's a direction Tortugas Café would never take. "I thought we had gotten beyond past people shopping together, dining together whether they were Black, White, Gay, Hispanic, Japanese, Chinese."

While there's no such bill in Alabama, it's making some people reflect back to segregation.

"To me, it's a modern day Jim Crow law." Lyn Roberts wonders how businesses in Arizona would even make the decision to deny someone service.

Roberts says, "people have all kinds of rights to turn away things and that's going to be a personable preference, but I think putting personable preference into law, I don't see how you quantify something like that."

Ralph Young, with Alabama Stonewall Democrats, says the bill is not only un-American, it's bad for business.

Young says, "That's why republicans like John McCain are against it because he's heard from fortune 500 companies who said this is bad for them and will set the state of Arizona back."

Young says there are more important things to deal with, rather than setting up a barrier between people. "It's very disappointing."

Some critics say the bill legislates religion. We did not find in favor of the Arizona bill. Equality Alabama says the bill is a call for action and more needs to be done to win hearts and minds.

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