Arizona Capitol

Political, Business Leaders, Gay-Rights Activists Call On Governor To Veto "Religious Freedom" Bill

The clock is ticking ... and many are waiting to see whether Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will sign into law the so-called "Religious Freedom" bill.

The measure, SB 1062, aims to give expanded protection to business owners who refuse to provide goods or services in situations or to individuals that offend their religious beliefs.

But it's clear, based on how proponents themselves have framed the issue, that the bill is designed to protect "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church or other business organization" should they discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.

Members of the gay community, their friends and allies, are meeting up at 4 p.m. today at the Arizona Capitol for a rally, urging Brewer to veto the bill.

See also: -Arizona's "Religious Freedom" Bill in the Hands of Governor Brewer -Arizona's Anti-LGBT "Religious Freedom" Bill Trolled by a Pair of Democratic Senators

"Arizona is a pro-business state that is strong and growing. SB 1062 hurts our state's economy and could jeopardize our ability to attract and retain high quality businesses and employees," rally organizers posted on Facebook. "The Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have asked for a veto as well because, as business leaders, they know the negative impact that this law would have on our community."

And, indeed, leaders in the business community have taken notice of the devastating effects they believe such a law would have on Arizona and its economy.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted to oppose the measure and also sent a letter to Brewer urging her to veto the bill.

Likewise, the heads of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council sent a letter to Brewer urging her to "consider a veto" of SB 1062.

"As written, Senate Bill 1062 claims to strengthen protections under Arizona law to defend against religious discrimination. The reality is - this legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come," write Chairman of the GPEC's Board of Directors James H. Lundy and the organizations President and CEO Barry G. Broome.

They also express in their letter to Brewer concerns about boycotts for the Super Bowl, which Arizona is expected to host in 2015, and inform her that they have "already been contacted by four companies we are working on with the Arizona Commerce Authority who will look to locate elsewhere if this legislation is signed."

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who championed in Phoenix an expanded anti-discrimination measure that now also offers protection to member of the gay community, has also spoken out against "religious freedom" bill.

He says that the measure, which "allows for increased discrimination against members of the LGBT community and many others is not only wrong, but would deliver a significant blow to the state economy."

The governor has five days to either sign the bill into law, veto the measure or allow it to become law by doing nothing.

"S.B. 1062 cruelly targets the LGBT community, but also clears the way for renewed discrimination against people who suffered from discrimination in the past. As written, it would subject women, members of the Mormon, Jewish and Muslim communities, disabled individuals and many more to hateful - but suddenly legal - acts," Stanton says in a prepared statement.

He says the measure will only "further divide our state, and give new life to the false impression that Arizonans are intolerant ... Allowing that to happen would be a grave and wholly unnecessary self-inflicted wound that Arizona's economy cannot afford."

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, has also spoken out against the measure.

"As a Christian conservative, I am very troubled that the religious rights are being trampled as part of the current debate on changes in our society. But, I am also a member of a church that has experienced servere persecution because of its beliefs," Smith has said. "I firmly beleive that discrimination or bigotry in any form is unacceptable. I am concerned that SB1062 carries the real potential for unintended consequences that could negatively impact our most basic rights, including the freedom of religion."

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo