Feb 24, 2014 8:34 PM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - The business community in Southern Arizona has mostly taken a stance against the controversial religious freedom bill passed by the Arizona State Legislature last week.
Senate Bill 1062 essentially grants business owners and individuals the right to refuse service to gays and lesbians, among other groups, if it conflicts with their individual religious beliefs.
On Congress Avenue in downtown Tucson, hundreds of signs pepper the storefronts with phrases stating "We Do Not Discriminate - VETO."
May Lou Thompson has worked as a Realtor in Southern Arizona for 37 years.
"It makes us look, again, like we don't care about human equality," Thompson said.
She remembers the fallout of the state's controversial enforcement law, which triggered boycotts and event cancellations across the state.
Thompson worries that this bill, if signed by Governor Brewer, will give Arizona a black eye and make it harder to convince people to move here.
"I know businesses will decide not to come here," she said, adding that a law like this could undercut the economic progress Tucson has made in recent years.
Thompson fears the worst has already occurred.
"It's exciting to see what's happening with new businesses coming into town right now -- and I imagine there will be some pulling out if this passes, and there may be some pulling out anyway," she said.
That's a fear that resonates state-wide.
"As national groups look to Arizona to host major events ... I think they will take a moment and question whether they want to bring big groups of fans to our community and then have some people turned away from restaurants and stores and businesses," said Rep. Demion Clinco, the only openly-gay member of the state house of representatives.
While Gov. Brewer has been in Washington over the past several days, the Tucson Metro Chamber sent a letter to her this morning on behalf of 1,450 businesses in Tucson urging her to veto the bill.
"There seems to be little doubt that this measure is regarded as regressive and serves only to define the state of Arizona in a negative light," the letter reads.
Gov. Brewer has until Friday to take action on the bill.
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