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Veto of antigay bill in Arizona urged

PHOENIX — Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, faced intensifying pressure Monday from chief executives, politicians in Washington, and state lawmakers in her own party to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gay people.

Senate Bill 1062 has set off a political firestorm since the Arizona Legislature passed it last week, with critics denouncing it as blatantly discriminatory and embarrassing to the state.

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The chorus of opposition has grown each day, and on Monday, three state senators who voted for the bill changed course and said they oppose it. US Senator John McCain asked Brewer to veto the measure, as did the chief executive of American Airlines. State Senators Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs, and Steve Pierce sent their letter urging a veto just days after they joined the entire 17-member Senate GOP caucus in voting for the bill.

With the three GOP senators joining all 13 Senate Democrats in opposition, there would be enough votes to defeat the measure in a revote. But too much time has passed to allow a reconsideration, and the bill was sent to Brewer Monday. Brewer now has five working days to sign or veto the bill. She returns from governors association meetings in Washington on Tuesday.

The bill allows any business, church, or individual to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.

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