TUCSON -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer began meeting Wednesday with key groups before deciding the fate of legislation that would give more protection to businesses citing religious beliefs in denying service to gays. The meetings come as a group representing Latino lawyers announced it was moving its scheduled convention out of state.
The Hispanic National Bar Assn. said it will move its 40th annual convention, scheduled for September 2015 in Phoenix, because the legislation, SB 1062, discriminates against members of Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“The HNBA views this as a civil rights issue. As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice,” national president Miguel Alexander Pozo stated. “As the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said more than 50 years ago, writing from a Birmingham, Ala., jail cell, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ ”
Brewer has until the end of the week to decide whether to sign or veto the measure, which adds some legal protections to business owners who refuse service to gays and others on the basis of religion. The bill has been roundly criticized by many local and nation business leaders fearing a repeat of lost revenue such as occurred when many boycotted the state during a dispute over SB 1070, a tough law designed to combat illegal immigration.
A study by a liberal think tank, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress, estimated that conventions canceled after SB 1070 cost Arizona more than $23 million in lost tax revenue and at least $350 million in direct spending by would-be attendees.
Brewer has not said what she plans to do. In a tweet from her official account late Tuesday, the governor said: “I assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the State of Arizona.”
However, the governor has been under increasing pressure to veto the proposal passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature. The proposal passed with support from all but three House Republicans and all 17 GOP state senators. Three of those senators, however, reversed course Monday and called for the governor to veto the bill.
In addition to the pressure from some business leaders, parts of the state’s Republican establishment, including Sen. John McCain, have called on Brewer to veto the legislation. The state’s other senator, Jeff Flake, has also called for a veto, as did former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Among the businesses urging a veto are Apple Inc., which is opening a manufacturing plant in Mesa, American Airlines, Delta, Marriott and GoDaddy.
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