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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer heads home amid furor over bill



By BOB CHRISTIE

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Jan Brewer returned to Arizona on Tuesday 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."

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.

Democrats say that argument doesn't wash and call SB1062 "toxic" legislation that allows discrimination. They said they warned Republicans who voted for the bill that it was destined for trouble.

"We brought this to their attention five weeks ago," said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. "We said this is exactly what is going to happen. You have a bill here that's so toxic it's going to divide this Legislature. It's going to be polarizing the entire state. And that's exactly what happened."

The bill was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal simply clarifies existing state law and is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts.

The center's president, Cathi Herrod, has been deriding what she called "fear-mongering" from the measure's opponents.

"What's happened is our opponents have employed a new political tactic, and it's working," she said. "Throw out the threat of a boycott to attempt to defeat a bill, and you might just be able to be successful.

Herrod added she was surprised and disappointed that "in America today, false attacks and irresponsible characterizations about a piece of legislation can so intimidate and persuade people to change their opinion about religious liberty."

Join the discussion

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bchaning February 25 2014 at 8:22 PM

While I disagree with her in spirit and wishes regarding the trends in our nation, I agree in terms of objective and constitutional governing. I wish that she didn't have to make such a choice, but am thankful that people of strong capabilities are in some of our executive positions (not all, unfortunately).

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chrissf4529 February 25 2014 at 7:27 PM

Will the next law be denying service if the straight couple has sex in any other position except missionary................... While I oppose any law that gives one group more rights, I oppose any law that give another group less rights. Absurd law. Please veto this.

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Dr. John Watts February 25 2014 at 7:27 PM

We who call our selves Christians ... followers of Jesus Christ and His teachings ... are quite vocal in our opposition to the ways of the Fundamentalist Muslim movement and its followers who go so far as to preach that it is "God's will" and direction that we "kill the infidels" who believe or behave in any manner that is different from our own beliefs and behaviours. Yet ... are we not ourselves becoming just as radical and just as severe in our attitudes and in our actions toward anyone who is "different" in any way from what we believe to be the "straight and narrow" path that we have chosen??? Would we not all fare much better if we simply practised the perfect law of love that Jesus taught and leave judgement to the one who has earned to right to practice it? Personally I do not believe that I am qualified to judge another for his or her beliefs, behaviors, life style or any other choices they may make. With choices come rewards and consequences and I am not aware that either God or Government has given me the authority to deliver the rewards or the consequences to those who make their own personal choices that do no harm to others and, as far as I am aware, break no laws other than those that some of us self appointed "law-givers" have invented on the pretext of speaking for and on behalf of Almighty God. Shame on us. God hates sin of any kind yet He has declared and proven His love for all sinners. HE will deal with sin and HE has appointed us as His messengers to tell the sinners that He loves them ... no matter what. God help us all. May God forgive us all for our bigotry and "love of hate."

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2 replies
alexandra Dr. John Watts February 25 2014 at 7:34 PM

Thank you so much- I wish all would understand your enlightened wisdom

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surferlaments Dr. John Watts February 25 2014 at 7:42 PM

how is it you bring God into this? did not the Christ tell the woman who was accused of adultry...... where are your accusers? He went on to say, your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more. that is the key.... go, and sin no more. just what kind of christian do you claim to be that makes it sound as if homosexuality is ok with God? more like shame on you, for Scripture tells us that it is an abominationto God. you must know at least that much. i don't think you have been appointed by God for teaching others what is right or wrong. i haven't been appointed either, but i do know what Scriptures says about homosexuality. i pray they all go and sin no more.

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table37 February 25 2014 at 10:07 PM

When did Arizona become part of the Soviet Union?

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1 reply
Harvey table37 February 25 2014 at 11:27 PM

Table 37 to answere your question "When did Arizona become part of the Soviet Union?" It happened when they were not allowed to defend their own borders by our own federal government. We are now the US of Amerika.

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matrix0295 February 25 2014 at 8:47 PM

Interesting to see the debate about Gays and their life style as it confronts and conflicts with people and their religious beliefs. I would suggest to the "mindless masses" that they step back from the fight and look at what is really taking place. The powers that be and their puppet media control us by keeping us divided and diverted from the true issues of our day. True Christians are not judgmental and are much more tolerant of everyone's choices. It is the fanatic fringe of any and all groups that harbor the vitriol and malice toward others. As a believer in Christ, I was taught to love everyone. I fall far short of that teaching, but only after someone or something tries to do me, my loved ones, or someone defenseless, harm. I have done my best to teach my children and those entrusted to me that regardless of race, creed, physical appearance, political affiliation, etc. There are only two types of people in the world: good or evil. Those who will try to hurt you and those that would not. Extremely simple! As for this law and all the bills and BS discussions our political buffoons engage in, it is up to us to understand they only want to remain in positions of little work and high reward! We are charged here and now more so than any other time in history to hold those who make the rules and run the show to be responsible and accountable. Stop sweating the small stuff!!!

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2 replies
Truckinman1 matrix0295 February 25 2014 at 8:49 PM

“AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR CREATER”
"One by one , two by two, show a little love in all you do, In Gods world his will be done yet until we Love we're all alone, Help a neighbor, lend a hand, show a smile and understand, God wants everyone to be full of Love and charity, reach out to someone else today show a little Love in all you do,
Don't hate this land , don't harm yourself, show a little love in all you do, One by one, Two by two, one by one Two by two...…”

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bpdarling matrix0295 February 25 2014 at 9:23 PM

Not too many "true Christians" in Arizona...... LOTS AND LOTS of ultracon Southern Baptists, Polygamous Mormons (Warren Jeffs).....and other opressive strict dominating "religions"......

If you don't like gay people.....don't go to their bakery and buy one of their wedding cakes, and if you're gay, I HIGHLY DOUBT those folks would spend one dime in any business that wanted to openly discriminate. I think the businesses that DO DISCRIMINATE, like the bakery in Washington who refused to make a wedding cake.....for an LGBT couple.......will quickly be OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!!

Truth is..demographically.....the people who SUPPORT this bigotry and hate are VERY FEW in numbers, but have the BIGGEST MOUTHS.....the Gay community has MORE DISPOSABLE INCOME, and are more educated than any other.....and they're SPENDING those billions in CALIFORNIA, HAWAII, and other states that embrace EQUALITY. California ERASED it's defecit....now has a tax SURPLUS....meanwhile, Arizona spirals towards bankruptcy and financial ruin. Not to many more tourist dollars to chase away in Arizona these days....it's almost ALL GONE! SIgn the bill Jan.....and wave BYE BYE to the Super Bowl next year, and the BILLIONS that come with it!

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tneill1031 February 25 2014 at 8:24 PM

I would be happy not to do business where I was not wanted, of course I'm not a person trying to forces my lifestyle on anyone.

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Doug February 25 2014 at 9:35 PM

Go ahead you dinosaur...sign the bill...if you're REALLY a "Christian", you will sign it and watch how much this will cost your state and then pave the way for a Progressive to replace you!

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1 reply
djmedlee Doug February 25 2014 at 10:23 PM

Not to mention no Super Bowl next year----why should our economy suffer further because of ignorance...

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piknplundr February 25 2014 at 9:35 PM

Gov. Brewer is not going to let something like this pass. Having said that, I don't want to be around or do business with someone that doesn't want me around. Why would any one want to eat at a restaurant that doesn't want you? We would eat at a restaurant on the coast from time to time. The lady that owned it decided no children allowed. It's not like the restaurant was a swanky five star, just a greasy spoon fried seafood place. My children are grown but we no longer eat there in protest. A lot of families with children visit the coast every summer for their family vacation and like to eat out. I know it's not the same issue but the point is, why would people eat where they or their children are not wanted?

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Dallas February 25 2014 at 7:54 PM

The SCOTUS has expressly recognized - as both an individual and collective right - that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First - “…the right to peaceably assemble…” - Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and has been determined to be limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes.

Why should businesses and/or their owners be deprived of the same right?

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jim.kennedy2 February 25 2014 at 9:48 PM

the "main stream" in america now SUPPORTS gay rights and is both secular (separation of church and state) and progressive! I AM SOOOOO GLAD I DON'T LIVE IN ARIZONA!!!

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