Arizona has become a major flashpoint in the national debate over the boundaries between religious freedom and discrimination, as Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have given business owners a legal defense for refusing service to customers on religious grounds.
But the state is hardly alone in mulling more explicit protections for religious business owners and individuals, whose objections to same-sex marriage have come into increasing conflict with newer laws expanding the rights of gays and lesbians.
Here’s a roundup of various religious-liberty measures circulating in other statehouses. Most have yet to pass a single chamber and a number have been tabled. Some deal specifically with the rights of businesses or students, while others are more broadly worded. In at least two states, the issue may go before voters as a ballot initiative.
* Proposed legislation:
Alabama: A bill introduced in the state House would create the Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act, which would “prohibit school districts from discriminating against a student or parent on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression in public schools” and “require school districts to allow religious expression in class assignments, coursework, and artwork.”
Georgia: Lawmakers have introduced the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act“ modeled after a two-decade-old federal law that sets a high legal bar for when the government may “substantially burden” an individual’s exercise of religion.
Legislators in the lower house have also proposed a “Georgia Student Religious Liberties Act” that would prohibit teachers from penalizing students for expressing religious beliefs in assignments or homework and would also require schools to create forums for students to express their faith at school events.