WASHINGTON, February 25, 2014— Arizona Governor Jan Brewer faces increasing pressure over a bill criticized as anti gay. The controversial bill allows businesses to deny service to gay and lesbian customers as long as they do so by asserting their religious beliefs.
The bill is drawing widespread opposition. LGBT groups are protesting the proposed legislation, and both the Arizona Cardinals football team and the Super Bowl Organizing Committee are voicing opposition. Concern by the NFL could even jeopardize Arizona’s hosting of Super Bowl XLIX next year.
John McCain has come out against the bill, as have several other GOP politicians and Democrats.
Apple Inc. and the CEO of American Airlines Group Inc. have also made statements against SB 1062.
Senate Bill 1062 became a politically polarizing issue when the Arizona Legislature passed it last week, with critics claiming it is discriminatory and an embarrassment to the state. Lawmakers from Brewer’s own party are calling on her to veto the bill.
In addition to McCain, State Senators Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent letters urging Brewer to veto the bill just days after they voted with the entire 17-member Senate GOP caucus in voting in support of SB 1062.
With these three GOP state senators joining the 13 state senate Democrats in opposition, there would be enough votes to defeat the measure in a re-vote. But too much time has passed to allow for a reconsideration vote.
The bill is backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law.
Governor Brewer is expected to make a decision about the bill later this week. She can sign it, veto it, or do nothing and let it become law automatically.
With Governor Brewer not up for re-election, she may be more likely to eliminate the bill than if she had to face the pressure of a primary election. With the business community lining up against the latest proposal, Brewer could have cover for a veto. Arizona’s economy has been a focal point for Governor Brewer who has returned the state’s economy to pre-recession levels with business incentives and tax cuts. She could also cite the loss of revenue if the state is not able to host the Super Bowl as the reason for killing the bill.
Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that has passed.
Republicans have stressed that the bill is not about discrimination but instead about protecting religious freedom.
Arizona currently has no law protecting people based on sexual orientation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.