WATCH: Business Backlash Builds Against Arizona’s Hate Bill

Jan Brewer's Twitter Feed Blows Up With Requests To Veto Hate Bill

Arizona’s new Jim Crow-inspired anti-gay bill is now headed to Governor Janet Brewer’s desk. Now businesses are begging her to veto the measure. Image @BizJournals

Shock waves are running through Arizona’s business community in response to the final passage of Senate Bill 1062. The measure is the state’s right-to-hate-and-discriminate law, aimed at the gay and lesbian community. In true Jim Crow fashion, it would allow any individual or business to refuse to serve anyone to whom they object. They only have to claim that doing so would violate their ‘religious convictions’. The state House passed its version on Thursday. The bill will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday.

Protesters and businesses are united in urging governor to veto the law.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Friday at the state capitol in Phoenix, as well as in Tucson, to demonstrate against SB 1062. At the Phoenix protest, an organizer announced that four businesses, once planning to locate in Arizona, had already signaled their intention to withdraw if the bill is signed into law. Each business would have employed at least 1,000 workers. Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), confirmed that he had sent a letter to Gov. Brewer, stating:

With major events approaching in the coming year, including Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona will be the center of the world’s stage. This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl, and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts.

In addition to the concerns with the growing negative attention already being portrayed across both national and social media, we have already been contacted by four companies we are working on with the Arizona Commerce Authority who will look to locate elsewhere if this legislation is signed.

Broome further told the Arizona Daily Sun that he has been contacted by existing Arizona businesses who report that customers are dropping them because of SB 1062. He expressed the worry that’s on the minds of most of the state’s business owners:

This bill will be unbelievably damaging to the branding and the reputation of the state. It’s not an exaggeration.

The Ku Klux Klan once tried the same tactic.

He dismisses the idea that the law is needed to protect religious ‘freedom’ by saying:

The Ku Klux Klan in the South, their main argument was with a Bible in their hands. There’s a long history of people engaging in persecution in the name of their religion.

No business sector is more concerned with the fallout than the tourism industry, especially at the prospect that next year’s Super Bowl XLIX will pull out of Arizona. Many critics are urging the NFL to do just that. Kristen Jarnagin, of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, said:

We’ve already received countless phone calls and e-mails from people canceling trips or threatening not to return.

More than 850 current Arizona companies and non-profit organizations have signed a Unity Pledge, vowing support for their LGBT employees and for diversity in the larger community. PetSmart, Liberty Mutual, Allstate, and Apollo Group are among them. Smaller businesses are announcing their support for the LGBT community in their own way.

Shannon Austin Zouzoulas of Sonoita, Arizona, owns a winery and brewery called AZ Hops and Vines. She was so bothered by news of the law’s passage that she posted a picture of a rainbow-colored glass of wine in her window. Below it, she wrote, “Arizona Hops and Vines loves ALL our customers!”

The picture in the window of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson went viral on the Internet, even earning a mention in the New York Times. It reads: “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona Legislators.”

Brewer stays mum about her intent.

The target of all this outcry, Governor Jan Brewer, is in Washington, D.C., attending a governors’ conference. After final passage of the bill, her Twitter feed blew up with requests for her to veto it. Brewer does not comment in advance on how she might respond to legislation, however, so the public and even her advisers are left guessing about the outcome. The bill will be sent to her office on Monday. She returns to Arizona on Tuesday.

One of her advisers is former Attorney General Grant Woods. Woods is among those who will encourage the governor to veto the bill. He told the Arizona Republic:

Hopefully, from my perspective, she’ll see this will put Arizona in a national negative light, and it shows Arizona is really going in the opposite direction on important issues at a time when the country seems to be moving forward.

Interviewed in Washington, the most Brewer would say is that the bill is “very controversial” and that she would make a decision by next Friday, Feb. 28th.

In the meantime, the protests at the state capitol will continue, through the weekend and on into the week, until Brewer acts. For those who would also like to ask her to veto SB 1062, keep on tweeting. Her handle is @govbrewer and her phone number is 602-542-4331 — in case anyone prefers to call.