Sen. Flake hopes Ariz. gov. vetoes anti-gay bill

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) hopes his state’s governor will veto legislation that would allow business owners to cite their religious beliefs in denying gay and lesbian customers.

Flake tweeted Saturday, “I hope Governor Brewer vetoes SB 1062.” 

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is now wrestling with whether to sign SB 1062 into law as both the state’s Senate and House have passed the bill. The legislation, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, would allow business owners to operate according to their own religious beliefs.

Religious conservatives say the bill is necessary so people can practice their own faiths. Critics say the bill would allow for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbians.

Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, has opposed the legislation, calling it the “License to Discriminate” bill on its blog.

The bill is inspired to counteract a state Supreme Court decision in New Mexico this past August. The ruling in that case, known as Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, found that a wedding photographer violated a same-sex couple’s rights by refusing to photograph their commitment ceremony. The photographer said taking pictures of the ceremony would go against her religious beliefs.

“SB 1062 seeks to ensure that state laws that violate the religious liberty of private persons cannot be enforced simply because the government is not technically a party to the case,” said the Center for Arizona Policy on its website, a conservative-leaning group that supports the bill.  

Arizona businesses are worried about the legislation’s impact on the economy, believing it could hurt tourism to the state.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has called for a veto of the bill, saying it could have “profound, negative” economic effects for years. Meanwhile, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce said it had no official position on the bill but that it "raised concerns," according to The Arizona Republic.

Representatives for Flake did not respond to messages asking for comment for this piece. Flake also did not immediately respond to a question over Twitter on why he believes the bill should not become law.