Pro-Gay Laws Spark Efforts to Guard Faith Freedoms

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Several states are seeking to protect religious freedom in the wake of new laws legalizing gay marriage.

In Arizona, a bill to protect the rights of people and businesses who refuse to service gays based on their religious convictions has passed the state Senate.

However, opponents said the measure will allow discrimination against gays and hurt the state economy.

Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough said the bill is about "preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

In Idaho and Tennessee similar measures have been withdrawn after being labeled discriminatory.

Idaho Republican state Rep. Lynn Luker said his measure was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, but was misinterpreted to be a "sword for discrimination."

He added that he respects concerns he heard and as a result plans to take more time to work on the bill. 

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a proposal to protect wedding-related businesses from lawsuits if they refuse to provide services to same-sex couples is dead for the session after being withdrawn from a Senate committee, also accused of being discriminatory. 

Republican Sen. Mike Bell, a proponent of the measure, said he wanted to protect shop owners in Tennessee, noting that those in other states have been sued for refusing to do business.

In Oregon and Washington state, businesses that refuse service to gay couples face lawsuits and state action.

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