Do non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people conflict with freedom of religion?


Freedom of religion is important; that’s why it is already protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Arizona state law. This right is not affected by non-discrimination ordinances—including ones that contain sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

Following the teachings of one’s faith is important, but that doesn’t mean we should impose our beliefs on others. Religion should not be used as an excuse to discriminate or refuse to follow the law.

Non-discrimination laws and ordinances in Arizona already require all business owners, regardless of their religious beliefs, to serve people of all faiths and races. Businesses engaged in public commerce should be held to this same standard in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity—that’s why non-discrimination protections need to be updated.

Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms, including to customers who are gay or transgender. Nobody should be turned away from a business, denied service in a restaurant, or evicted from their apartment simply because of who they are or who they love. That’s good business practice, as the considerable support from the business community for updating our non-discrimination laws demonstrates.