Valley florist fears religious freedom bill will deter customers


by Erika Flores

Bio | Email | Follow: @ErikaFloresTV

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 6:56 PM

PHOENIX -- Valley florist Amanda Johnson said a bill that would allow Arizona business owners to refuse service to gay people for religious reasons should be vetoed for the sake of business owners and others in the state.

She fears Senate Bill 1062, which awaits Gov. Jan Brewer's decision, might already have affected her business.

"The message is already out there; 'We don't want your business,' and that couldn't be further from the truth," Johnson said. "We think it's a horrible idea."

She said about 90 percent of her business comes from weddings.

"There's a lot of wedding and event businesses here in the Valley who openly accept same-sex couples,” she said.

If the bill is signed into law, business owners who refuse services to gays on religious grounds would be protected from lawsuits.

State Sen. Al Melvin supports the bill.

“Some people in some states are being forced or pursued for not being involved in same-sex marriages, whether it's baking a cake or a flower arrangement," Melvin said.

But opponents argue the bill is an excuse to discriminate in the name of religion.

“I don't think it is discrimination," Melvin said.

But Johnson disagrees.

“I feel like any couple should feel comfortable calling (and) saying, ‘Come do my wedding flowers,’ because, in the end, it's business," she said.