Three Republican lawmakers in Arizona backed away Monday from their support for legislation that has been fiercely criticized as anti-gay, urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill they had previously backed.
The lawmakers said in a letter to Brewer that the bill, which would allow businesses to deny services to gays based on their religious beliefs, had been “mischaracterized,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Brewer has until Friday to decide whether to sign or veto the bill after it passed the legislature last week.
“While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm,” wrote Arizona state Sens. Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce, and Bob Worsley. “As Arizona leaders, we feel it is important to loudly proclaim that we strongly condemn discrimination in any form.”
Critics of the bill, which also include the state’s U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, have been urging the governor to veto the bill. The state Senator who introduced the bill is standing by it, the Times reports. “The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected, and this bill does nothing more than affirm that,” Republican state Sen. Steve Yarbrough said.