A controversial bill, now sitting on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk, proposes to allow the state’s business owners to refuse to serve customers if their “sincerely held religious beliefs” prohibit it.
The legislation is widely interpreted to mean that conservative Christian individuals could legally refuse service to LGBT people. The refusal of “public accommodation” would likely apply to hotels, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies, wedding services and other types of businesses.
Brewer has until Monday to veto the bill or sign it into law. If she takes no action, the bill will become law automatically, according to CNN.
The governor is a reliably conservative lawmaker, but experts are not sure what she will decide to do with this legislation. A surprising coalition of Republican leaders, including Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has urged her to veto the bill. Corporations like Apple, Delta, American Airlines, Marriott (where Romney is a board member) and others have also spoken out against it. Some state business leaders and LGBT advocates fear that the potential law could hurt Arizona’s ability to attract businesses and improve the economy.
“I have a history of deliberating and having an open dialogue on bills that are controversial, to listen to both sides of those issues, and I welcome the input and information that they can provide to me. And certainly I am pro-business, and that is what's turning our economy around, so I appreciate their input, as I appreciate the other side,” Brewer told CNN.
“If you want your state to become a pariah for business, then these laws are just the thing for you,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “With corporations showing they will not stand for discriminatory laws, any state that wants to attract investment, grow their economies or host conventions and major sporting events should dismiss these efforts out of hand.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, similar bills have been introduced in Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon (a proposed ballot measure), South Dakota and Tennessee. The action Brewer takes may influence legislators in other jurisdictions.