Arizona Governor Heads Home Amid Furor Over Bill
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer headed home Tuesday after five days in Washington to a state that has become embroiled in a national debate over religious and gay rights because of a bill on her desk.
The Republican governor is expected to arrive in Phoenix in the afternoon and likely will spend the next day or more pondering Senate Bill 1062 before deciding whether to sign or veto the legislation.
The bill allows businesses whose owners cite sincerely held religious beliefs to deny service to gays. It allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.
There is widespread speculation that Brewer will veto the bill, but she has not said how she’ll act, as is her longtime practice with pending legislation.
Political observers in Arizona cautioned that the governor is deliberate and not prone to act hastily, despite the growing calls from business, politicians of all stripes, and civil rights groups for a veto.
"She’s no rookie to these high-profile deals - she gives both sides their due," said Doug Cole, a political consultant whose firm has run all of Brewer’s campaigns for decades.
"She’s going to get a very detailed briefing from her legal team, and give the proponents their best shot, and the opponents their best shot," he said. "Everybody’s going to get their say, and they’ve giving it."
Some Republican senators who pushed the bill through the Legislature are now calling for a veto as well, but they cite "inaccurate" information about the measure for igniting a firestorm. They argue the bill is designed only to protect business owners with strong religious beliefs from discrimination lawsuits that have happened in other states. Some blame the media for blowing the law out of proportion.