Lawmakers in Arizona have passed a discriminatory bill that grants business owners the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers because of religious beliefs. Now, the fate of the Senate Bill 1062 rests in the hands of Republican governor Jan Brewer.
“I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with, but I don’t know that it needs to be statutory,” Brewer told CNN. “In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested. That’s America. That’s freedom.”
A number of businesses and organizations have spoken out against the measure, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, claiming the “legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come.”
Council President Barry Broome added, “With major events approaching in the coming year, including Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona will be the center of the world’s stage. This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts.”
Other opponents of the bill have stated the legislation would open the door to legalized discrimination, not just against gay and lesbian people, but to other classes of individuals that have been historically mistreated in the United States on the basis of race, national origin, and religion.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona stated, “What today’s bill does is allow private individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate, sending a message that Arizona is intolerant and unwelcoming.”
Senate Bill 1062 is being pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. If the bill is signed into law, businesses will have to assert religious beliefs in order to turn away customers.
Brewer says she will make her decision by the end of the week, whether to sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing in which case it would still become law.
Update: Governor Jan Brewer announced Wednesday afternoon that she will veto SB 1062.