Pressure mounts over Arizona bill opposed by gays.

Pressure mounts over Arizona bill opposed by gays.

Posted: Updated:

 

PHOENIX (AP) -- Republican Gov. Jan Brewer faced intensifying pressure Monday from CEOs, politicians in Washington and state lawmakers in her own party to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians. Senate Bill 1062 has set off a political firestorm since the Arizona Legislature passed it last week, with critics denouncing the measure as blatantly discriminatory and embarrassing to the state. The chorus of opposition has grown each day, and on Monday, three state senators who voted in favor of the bill changed course and said they oppose it. U.S. Sen. John McCain asked Brewer to veto the measure, as did Apple Inc. and the CEO of American Airlines Group Inc. State Sens. Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent their letter urging a veto just days after they joined the entire 17-member Senate GOP caucus in voting for the bill. "I think laws are (already) on the books that we need, and have now seen the ramifications of my vote," Worsley told The Associated Press. "I feel very bad, and it was a mistake. "With the three GOP senators joining all 13 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 reconsideration, and the bill was sent to Brewer in a routine transmittal Monday that was accompanied by "boos" from Senate Democrats. Brewer now has five working days to sign or veto the bill. She returns from governors association meetings in Washington on Tuesday afternoon. The governor doesn't comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it's unclear whether she would support or reject this plan. An estimated 350 people gathered outside the Arizona Capitol on Monday evening in a peaceful protest. They listened to speeches and many held homemade signs in opposition to the bill.

The bill is being pushed 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. CAP President Cathi Herrod is urging Brewer to sign the legislation and deriding what she called "fear-mongering" from its opponents. "The attacks on SB 1062 ... represent precisely why so many people are sick of the modern political debate," Herrod wrote in a weekend posting on the group's website. "Instead of having an honest discussion about the true meaning of religious liberty, opponents of the bill have hijacked this discussion through lies, personal attacks, and irresponsible reporting. "Our elected leaders have a fundamental duty to protect the religious freedom of every Arizonan, and that's what SB 1062 is all about."If SB1062 is vetoed, it will be a major defeat for Herrod's group, which is seen as a powerful force on the Arizona political scene. Herrod suffered a similar loss last year when she tried to get the Legislature to include anti-abortion language in a Medicaid expansion bill that Brewer was pushing. That effort angered Brewer, herself a strong opponent of abortion. With the business community lining up against the latest proposal, Brewer could have cover for a veto. She's worked hard to return Arizona's economy to pre-recession levels with business-friendly incentives and tax cuts. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Hueget confirmed Monday that the company had reached out to Brewer and urged a veto. Apple announced in November that it would open a manufacturing plant in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa that would employ up to 700 workers. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker also urged Brewer to veto SB1062, in part to prevent damage to the state's economy, which is finally rebounding from the Great Recession. Parker ran Arizona-based US Airways until it merged with Texas-based American last year. "There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far," Parker wrote. "Wholly apart from the stated intent of this legislation, the reality is that it has the very real potential of slowing down the momentum we have achieved by reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona and depressing the travel and tourism component of the economy if both convention traffic and individual tourists decide to go elsewhere. Pierce said he and the others went along to present a solid Republican front, despite misgivings. "We were uncomfortable with it to start with and went along with it thinking it was good for the caucus," Pierce said. "We really didn't want to vote for it, but we made a mistake and now we're trying to do what's right and correct it. "But their letter also said while the intent of their vote "was to create a shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. "The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination. Opponents call it a license to discriminate against gays. 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. The efforts are stalled in Idaho, Ohio and Kansas. Republicans stressed that the bill is not about discrimination but protecting religious freedom. They frequently cite the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple. They said Arizona needs a law to protect people in the state from heavy-handed actions by courts. Another frequently cited example is a suit brought against an Oregon baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The businesses were sued, but those efforts came under state laws that extended protected-class status to gays. Arizona has no such law protecting people based on sexual orientation.

---

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man found dead after 10 days in California lake

    Man found dead after 10 days in California lake

    Ten days after he was seen struggling in the water, a 22-year-old man has been found dead in a Santa Barbara County Lake.More >>
    Ten days after he was seen struggling in the water, a 22-year-old man has been found dead in a Santa Barbara County Lake.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Out with the old...

    Out with the old...

    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
  • Police probe 2 suspicious deaths in Sausalito

    Police probe 2 suspicious deaths in Sausalito

    Police in Sausalito are probing whether the suspicious deaths of two people inside a home are the touristy city's first homicides in five years.More >>
    Police in Sausalito are probing whether the suspicious deaths of two people inside a home are the touristy city's first homicides in five years.More >>
  • Judge denies indecent exposure suspect's bond be reduced

    Judge denies indecent exposure suspect's bond be reduced

    A California man accused of exposing himself to two victims in Yuma was in court Monday morning.More >>
  • Man admits firing cannon device that killed woman

    Man admits firing cannon device that killed woman

    A 41-year-old man has pleaded guilty to felony charges after setting off a homemade, cannon-like device that killed his longtime girlfriend in San Diego County.More >>
    A 41-year-old man has pleaded guilty to felony charges after setting off a homemade, cannon-like device that killed his longtime girlfriend in San Diego County.More >>
  • Missing Arizona leukemia girl found safe in Mexico

    Missing Arizona leukemia girl found safe in Mexico

    Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico--KSWT News 13 has located the missing 11-year old girl with leukemia who disappeared from the Phoenix Children's Hospital last month. We found Emily Bracamontes and her mother,More >>
    KSWT News 13 has located the missing 11-year old girl with leukemia who disappeared from the Phoenix Children's Hospital last month. More >>
  • Woman whose kids drowned pleads guilty to felonies

    Woman whose kids drowned pleads guilty to felonies

    The mother of two toddlers who drowned in a San Diego County swimming pool has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child endangerment.More >>
    The mother of two toddlers who drowned in a San Diego County swimming pool has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child endangerment.More >>