PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Jan Brewer returned to Arizona yesterday and faced a pressing decision about a bill on her desk that has prompted a national debate over religious and gay rights.
The Republican governor has been in Washington the last five days for a governor’s conference, and she is returning to a political climate that is much different from just a week ago.
The Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week allowing 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.
The legislation has caused a national uproar. The chorus of opposition has grown each day, with the business community, the state’s Super Bowl Committee and both Republican U.S. senators calling for a veto. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was the latest prominent voice to weigh in and urge Brewer to veto the bill.
Brewer will likely spend the next day or more pondering Senate Bill 1062 before deciding whether to sign or veto the legislation.
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.”