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Governor to Hear Final Word on SB 1062 Before Making Decision

Proponents of the controversial bill SB 1062 will get a last chance today to convince Gov. Jan Brewer to sign the legislation. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

The legislation sitting on Brewer’s desk has been decried as a license by businesses to deny service to gays without fear of being sued. That is, in part, because proponents cited the case of a New Mexico photographer sued for refusing to take pictures at a gay wedding.

However, it’s already legal in Arizona to spurn business from gays. Arizona laws bar discrimination based on things like gender, race, religion and national origin. But, sexual orientation is not protected. Sen. Steve Yarbrough, sponsor of the legislation, said a more realistic example would be observant Jewish men who form a corporation to provide kosher catering who are asked to provide pork at an event. Yarbrough said they should be able to cite their sincerely held religious views as a defense against any lawsuit that follows for turning away the business.

“The plaintiff in the Elaine Photography case happened to have been gay. And that was the gravamen of that whole business. But, it’s much bigger than that. It’s not about gayness. It’s simply about people wanting to engage in the free exercise of their religion,” Yarbrough said.

None of that has dampened the calls by businesses for Brewer to veto the measure — and the message some say it sends — as bad for the state’s economy. Yarbrough hopes to convince the governor otherwise when he meets with her later today.

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