PHOENIX -- Senate Bill 1062 demonstrators rallied at the Capitol Tuesday night to “Welcome the Governor Home,” ahead of her decision on the controversial religious freedom bill which opponents fear will lead to discrimination targeting the LGBT community.
“You can actually see the lights on in the executive tower,” said one demonstrator who led the crowd in a chant of "veto."
Gov. Jan Brewer has until Saturday night to sign or veto. She arrived back in Phoenix from Washington D.C. Tuesday afternoon but avoided media. Her staffers did not respond to 3TV requests for interviews or statements.
“This type of intensity is well known to Governor Brewer,” said Doug Cole, a longtime adviser to the governor who has run all of her political campaigns. He gave his advice to the governor via phone.
“I think she should veto it," Cole said. "I don’t think this bill is necessary.”
However, Cole says over the next 24 hours, Governor Brewer will meet with representatives from both sides of the debate, including business leaders, party leaders and then her legal team.
“I will say this about her: She takes these issues extremely seriously. She will go through her normal, thoughtful, deliberative process,” Cole said.
“She takes counsel from everyone, but at the end of the day, it’s her decision and hers alone,” Cole continued.
As the pressure mounts, pleas are pouring in from across the state and across the nation. Companies including American Airlines, Marriott and Apple urged a veto Monday, along with the Super Bowl Committee.
“The longer we wait the worse it is for Arizona,” said business owner Laurie Provost. “It’s making us look so bad. I’m an Arizonan and I can’t take it.”
Opponents of the bill have rallied at the Capitol every day since last Thursday when the legislation was passed. Demonstrators in support of the bill have largely been absent. However, Pastor Michael Salman of Harvest Christian Fellowship showed up to the Capitol on Tuesday with a sign reading, “SB 1062 is not hate; it is love for religious rights.
“It’s really not a hate issue,” Salman said. “There’s nothing in it that targets a particular class or group of people. It makes it very general and says anyone who has religious beliefs has a right to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to something without fear of being prosecuted or persecuted.”
While proponents of the legislation say it simply protects individuals or business owners from discrimination lawsuits, opponents fear it will only lead to more discrimination.
“I’m so embarrassed,” said demonstrator Rachel Butas of the legislation. “If this goes through and she does not veto, I will move out of state."