The head of a major economic development group is urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation expanding the ability of businesses to use their religion to deny services to gays — and maybe others. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
Barry Broome of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council said the legislation given final approval late Thursday would be, in his words, unbelievably damaging to the state. Broome said within hours of that vote he heard from officials at four firms the state is trying to lure that they were no longer interested. And, he said some companies that already are here say customers are cancelling, saying the message is that Arizona is hostile to gays. His letter to Brewer urging a veto is frustrating Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy who crafted the measure and wants the governor to sign it.
“I would encourage businesses to look at it from an opposite viewpoint, that Arizona should be a state that respects and values diversity of religious beliefs, that Arizona is a state that respects the religious faith of all individuals. And we are a state that is open to enabling business owners and individuals to live out their faith,” Herrod said.
But, Broome was unmoved by Herrod’s argument that Arizona needs a new law to protect religious freedom.
“The Ku Klux Klan in the South, their main argument was with a Bible in their hands. There’s a long history of people engaging in persecution in the name of their religion,” he said.
Brewer has five days to decide what to do after the bill lands on her desk on Monday.