The Arizona Senate passes a Republican-backed bill that expands the rights of people to assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays and others.

Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the bill being pushed by social conservatives, saying it would allow discriminatory actions by businesses.

But GOP Sen. Steve Yarbrough of Chandler 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 take pictures of their wedding. He says he's protecting religious rights.

Democrats sponsored eight hostile amendments during Wednesday's debate that were rejected by Republicans who control the Senate.

A similar bill is making its way through the House.