An Arizona Senate committee has given initial approval to a bill allowing people to claim their religious beliefs led them to refuse service to gays or other groups.
The bill pushed by Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough also broadened a bill that was a vetoed last year to include corporations and other entities.
Civil rights groups are opposed to the bill, saying it will allow discriminatory actions by businesses. Yarbrough said his push was prompted by a New Mexico case where the state Supreme Court allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to record their wedding.
Yarbrough cut a provision in last year's bill that allowed lawsuits by religious groups over potential violations of their rights.
Senate Bill 1062 passed its first Senate hearing on a party-line vote Thursday.