GOP senators ask Brewer to veto religious freedom bill - WFSB 3 Connecticut


GOP senators ask Brewer to veto religious freedom bill

(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

Three Republican state senators are urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow Arizona businesses to refuse services to customers based on their religious beliefs.

Sens. Bob Worsley, of Mesa; Adam Driggs, of Phoenix; and Steve Pierce, of Prescott sent Brewer a letter on Monday asking her to veto Senate Bill 1062, the so-called religious freedom bill.

[PDF: Read the senators' letter in its entirety]

"I had no idea there would be an out crying like this," Pierce said.

A similar bill passed the state Legislature last year and according to Pierce, it didn't receive the attention SB 1062 is this year.

"The business community came out so strongly opposing it but they wouldn't do that before [the vote]," Pierce said. "I had gone to [businesses] before to find out but no one would say anything."

Pierce contends he and a handful of other Republican lawmakers were "misinformed."

The bill's true intent is jumbled with legal jargon. The Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom helped write the bill.

Aaron Baer explained what the Center for Arizona Policy hoped to accomplish.

"All these doomsday scenarios that people are saying are going to happen under this bill really has nothing to do with it at all," Baer said.

Baer used Hobby Lobby, a national store which has been public about ownership's Christian beliefs, as an example of a company that would be directly affected by SB 1062.

"Every company, regardless of your views on the sanctity of life, is required to pay for abortion inducing drugs in their employee's insurance plans," Baer said. "The government has no right to require them to have to pay for those drugs in their insurance plans."

Baer said the bill was not intended to be discriminatory.

Political analyst Jaime Molera told CBS 5 News earlier in the day that as many as five Republican state senators could reconsider flipping their vote on SB 1062. He said it would take only three to reconsider the bill.

"There is a process to reconsider a bill, so there is some discussion behind the scenes as to whether or not those three, four, maybe five senators will want to do that," Molera said on the CBS 5 Start Smart Morning Show.

Molera said that while people think Brewer would ultimately veto the bill, senators such as Pierce, Worsley and majority leader John McComish, of Ahwatukee, have said they might consider flipping their vote.

Pierce, Worsley and McComish bore that out in the letter to Brewer in which they voiced their opposition to discrimination.

"While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance," the letter stated. "These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm."

The three senators said they thought it important to strongly proclaim that Arizona leaders condemn discrimination in any form.

All but three Republicans in the state House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill last week.

Brewer, a Republican, has five days to act on the proposed law she acknowledges is controversial.

Brewer was expected to get the bill on her desk Monday.

Protesters are pressuring her to veto SB 1062, and have been picketing outside the state Capitol.

Molera said opposition is gaining from gubernatorial candidates, as well.

Opponents also claim that if she signs the bill into law, it would hurt Arizona's economy and image.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the state's largest business advocacy group, is among business entities asking for a veto of the bill.

The chamber said Monday the bill could hurt tourism, make it hard to recruit new businesses and open the door to lawsuits against businesses.

On the other side, proponents claim the bill is about protecting religious freedom.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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