A debate over a proposed Arizona law that would exempt individuals and legal entities from having to cater to gay customers exploded Tuesday night on CNN when an opponent of the measure accused former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of being a “homophobe.”
Arizona Senate Bill 1062 would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and exempt individuals and legal entities from any state law that burdens their free exercise of religion, meaning a business could refuse service based on a customer’s sexual orientation.
“What is the difference between a business owner saying no blacks are allowed here versus no gays are allowed here?” CNN co-host Van Jones asked Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli dismissed the line of questioning, and CNN columnist LZ Granderson asserted the bill is “straight-up, plain nothing but discrimination,” adding that it would help institutionalize “homophobia.”
“Where in the Bible does Jesus say no to people? He’s always bringing people in! So are you really using this as––you brought up your religious faith, or are you wrapping your homophobia around the Bible and trying to find scriptures that justify your homophobia?” he asked.
Again, Cuccinelli pushed back on the line of reasoning and admonished Granderson for making personal attacks.
The CNN columnist responded by saying Cuccinelli has made “several remarks over the years that I would classify as homophobic, so I would say that you personally are probably a homophobe.”
Arizona currently has no public accommodation law requiring that businesses to serve persons regardless of sexual orientation. SB 1062 was written as a preemptive measure to ensure that no future laws could coerce businesses owners into violating their religious beliefs.
The bill has drawn strong support and criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Opponents of the bill argue that it would unfairly target members of the gay community. Supporters say it is necessary to protect religious liberty.
The bill easily passed the state’s Republican-controlled House and Senate and is currently awaiting Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature. She has until Feb. 28 to approve or veto the measure.
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