Arizona Gov. Weighing Controversial Religious Freedom Bill
All eyes are on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) this week to see whether she'll sign or veto a bill that gives businesses the right to deny service to customers for religious reasons. Critics have called the bill, which passed the Arizona Legislature last week, "state-sanctioned discrimination," and argued that it could open the door for business owners to cite religious beliefs in denying services to homosexuals.
Here's more on the story from FoxNews.com:
Brewer, a Republican, has five days to sign or veto the bill once it gets to her desk but has yet to clearly indicate what she will do. Brewer suggested over the weekend that she supports a business's freedom of choice but remains unsure whether that has to be put into state law. She vetoed a similar bill proposed last year by Yarbrough.
Despite some support in the state Legislature, prominent Republicans have pressed the GOP governor for a veto, including Sen. John McCain. Five of seven Republican candidates for governor also have called for the bill to be vetoed or withdrawn. The latest is Frank Riggs, a former California congressman, who said it is a "solution in search of a problem."
According to the new bill, "A person whose religious exercise is burdened … may assert that violation as a claim or a defense in a judicial proceeding.”
In addition to the New Mexico case, a gay couple in Arizona was recently denied service over religious beliefs when the owner of a small bakery declined to bake the couple a wedding cake. “I respectfully declined due to my personal Biblical convictions as a born-again Christian,” the owner told an Arizona TV station. “I firmly believe that my convictions in the Bible are more important than money.”
Similar legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma. But Arizona's plan is the only one that has passed.
Martha MacCallum spoke to Juan Williams and Andrea Tantaros this morning to hear their take on this controversial proposal. Williams believes the bill would basically allow people to discriminate, pointing out that both of Arizona's GOP Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have called on Brewer to veto the bill.
Tantaros said it appears that those in favor of the bill are looking to bring "Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals." She said she doesn't understand why this proposal is even on the table.
"What upsets me the most is that the First Amendment here has been completely ignored and instead it's turned into an argument to paint Christians as bigots. And I think that's the real problem. It's just ignited the loudest voices in the room and there's no reason to do that. I don't know why any Christian would want to not serve anybody," said Tantaros.
Williams said he thinks the debate is now hurting the image of Arizona, saying the state was already painted in a bad light over its controversial immigration law SB 1070.
Watch the full discussion above and stay tuned to Fox News for the latest coverage of Brewer's decision.