PHOENIX — Republican Gov. Jan Brewer faced intensifying pressure Monday from CEOs and politicians in her own party to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians.
Senate Bill 1062 has set off a political firestorm since the Arizona Legislature passed it last week, with critics denouncing the measure as blatantly discriminatory and embarrassing to the state.
The chorus of opposition has grown each day, and on Monday, three state senators who voted in favor of the bill changed course and said they opposed it. Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona asked Brewer to veto it, as did Apple Inc. and the CEO of American Airlines.
Republican state Sens. Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent a letter urging a veto just days after they joined the entire 17-member Senate GOP caucus in voting for the bill.
"I feel very bad, and it was a mistake," Worsley told the Associated Press.
With the three GOP senators joining all 13 Senate Democrats in opposition, there would be enough votes to defeat the measure in a re-vote. But too much time has passed to allow for reconsideration, and the bill was sent to Brewer on Monday.
Brewer has five working days to sign or veto the bill. She returns from governors association meetings in Washington today. She doesn't comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year.
The bill is being pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage. The group says the proposal is needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Hueget said the company had reached out to Brewer and urged a veto. Apple announced in November that it would open a manufacturing plant in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa that would employ up to 700 workers.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker also urged Brewer to veto the bill, in part to prevent damage to the state's economy. Parker ran Arizona-based US Airways until it merged with Texas-based American last year.