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Scottsdale lawyer: Service refusal bill bad for Arizona taxpayers

PHOENIX -- If Gov. Jan Brewer signs Senate Bill 1062, the service refusal bill, into law, one Valley attorney is afraid Arizona could face several legal challenges.

"For example, a taxi cab driver who may be Muslim may refuse to give service to a woman who may be traveling without a male companion, in violation of their religious law," Scottsdale attorney Jon Frutkin said. "As it exists now, that cab driver can't discriminate against that passenger, and perhaps after 1062, you're going to have a bunch of court cases that will cost taxpayers a lot of money to find out whether or not it allows for discrimination on other protected classes."

Protected classes, under current Arizona law, include religion, races, ethnicity, gender and age. Absent from that list are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Frutkin calls SB 1062 symbolic because business owners can already refuse to do business with them.

"There is no law in Arizona that prohibits people from refusing service based on their LGBT status," Frutkin said.

If SB 1062 becomes law, Frutkin fears it would come into conflict with current state law that bans discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender and age.

"I think that if the governor doesn't sign it, it's really a victory, both for taxpayers who won't have to spend an enormous amount of money fighting the constitutionality of it in court and a victory for business owners who like to present Arizona as a great community," said Frutkin.

From a practical perspective, Frutkin added, a veto is also a symbolic victory for members of the LGBT community.

"You cannot refuse to allow somebody, for example, to stay at your hotel, to eat in your restaurant because they are a woman, because they are Muslim, because they are Hispanic. Those are protected classes," he said. "The LGBT community enjoys that sort of protection in certain states, like California and New Mexico, but Arizona has no laws that prohibit discrimination with respect to them."

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