Conservative Lawmakers and Arizona Businesses Urge Governor to Veto Anti-Gay Bill
February 25, 2014, 5:00am

By Zack Ford, ThinkProgress

The national spotlight is now shining on Arizona as Gov. Jan Brewer (R) weighs whether to sign the controversial “license to discriminate” bill (SB 1062) passed by the legislature last week. Though the potential consequences are broad, at the very least it would seemingly allow businesses to use religion as an excuse to legally refuse service to LGBT people. She’s receiving a lot of encouragement to veto the bill from groups and individuals across the state, including from one lawmaker who even voted for it, many of the state’s representatives in Congress, and the state’s largest newspaper.

State Sen. Steve Pierce (R) voted for the bill, but admits now, “I screwed up. I’m trying to make it right.” He does not like the “negative picture of Arizona” the bill has painted, which he why he’s “on board asking the governor to veto the bill.” Pierce, who is running for governor, still rejects arguments that the legislation is anti-gay. Several other Republican lawmakers who supported the bill are reportedly backtracking on their support this week, perhaps as many as five. Two other Republican Senators who supported the bill, Adam Driggs and Bob Worsley, joined Pierce in sending Brewer a letter asking for a veto.

Several mayors from across the state have also urged Brewer to veto, many of whom serve cities with LGBT non-discrimination protections. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) said that SB 1062 “cruelly targets the LGBT community” and will hurt the state’s workforce. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell (D) suggested Arizona should follow his city’s lead and protect LGBT people from discrimination. According to Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D), SB 1062 would “take our state backwards to a time when discrimination was the norm.” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (R), a candidate for governor, explained that despite being a “Christian conservative,” he is concerned that the bill “could negatively impact our most basic rights” and “have a detrimental impact on Arizona’s business environment. They are joined by State Treasurer Doug Ducey (R) and Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R), both of whom are also running for governor.

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd said that it should be “an easy veto” for Brewer, citing the impact SB 1062 could have on the economy. Over a series of tweets, Meghan McCain described the veto as “the right thing for ALL Arizonans.” Many of the state’s representatives in Congress agree, including both Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) Jeff Flake (R-AZ), as well as Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), and Ron Barber (D-AZ), who all said they support a veto.

Business groups have indicated that these economic concerns are valid. The CEOs of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council wrote to Brewer requesting a veto:

After analyzing the bill, we are very concerned about the effect it could have on Arizona’s economy. As leaders in the business community, we cannot support measures that could expose our businesses to litigation, nor do we want to send a message that our state is anything but an open and attractive place for visitors and the top talent that will be the cornerstone of our continued economic growth.

If specific Arizona issues related to religious liberty are identified, we would stand ready to work with anyone to ensure that any solution addresses those problems while also ensuring that all individuals feel welcome in our state and that business is not hurt.
According to Kirstin Jarnagin, vice president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Assocation, people are already cancelling trips to Arizona because of the negative perception the bill has brought to the state.

On Friday, hundreds protested in cities across the states, making their opposition to the bill known. In an open letter to the state, actor George Takei announced that he would proudly lead a national boycott if Brewer doesn’t veto:

So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.
Brewer has until Friday to make her decision.