PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was holding a series of private meetings Wednesday with opponents and proponents of legislation adding protections for people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays, a proposal that has focused national attention on the state as business groups, gay rights supporters and even many fellow Republicans urged her to use her veto power.
The governor faces a Saturday deadline to either sign Senate Bill 1062 or use her veto stamp. In a tweet from her official Twitter account late Tuesday, the governor said: "I assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the State of Arizona."
Brewer has been under increasing pressure to veto the proposal passed by the Republican-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 SB1062.
"We were uncomfortable with it to start with and went along with it thinking it was good for the caucus," said Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. "We really didn't want to vote for it. But we made a mistake, and now we're trying to do what's right and correct it."
Their letter to Brewer, however, said the proposal had fallen victim to inaccuracies. Though their intent, they wrote, "was to create a shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance."
The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination. Supporters call the bill a slight tweak to the state's existing religious freedom law, which does not extend protections to people based on sexual orientation.