Democrats say that argument doesn't wash and call SB1062 "toxic" legislation that allows discrimination. They said they warned Republicans who voted for the bill that it was destined for trouble.
"We brought this to their attention five weeks ago," said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. "We said this is exactly what is going to happen. You have a bill here that's so toxic it's going to divide this Legislature. It's going to be polarizing the entire state. And that's exactly what happened."
The bill was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal simply clarifies existing state law and is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts.
The center's president, Cathi Herrod, has been deriding what she called "fear-mongering" from the measure's opponents.
"What's happened is our opponents have employed a new political tactic, and it's working," she said. "Throw out the threat of a boycott to attempt to defeat a bill, and you might just be able to be successful.
Herrod added she was surprised and disappointed that "in America today, false attacks and irresponsible characterizations about a piece of legislation can so intimidate and persuade people to change their opinion about religious liberty."
Follow Bob Christie at http://twitter.com/APChristie .