(USA Today) -- With the clock ticking for Gov. Jan Brewer to veto, ignore or sign SB 1062, local business leaders are expressing fear that Super Bowl XLIX may be pulled from Arizona next year.
The controversial bill would allow businesses to use religious beliefs as a basis for refusing service to gays and others without fear of lawsuits.
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee joined the vocal majority and opposed the religious-rights measure and the NFL said it is against discrimination and is closely watching the bill.
"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee said in a statement that one of its key missions is to promote economic vitality in Arizona.
"On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation," the committee said.
The 2015 Super Bowl is currently scheduled to be held in Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium. The league moved the 1993 Super Bowl to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., after Arizona voters failed to approve a paid state holiday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in November 1990.
The 1996 Super Bowl was played in Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium after a 1992 vote in favor of a King holiday.
Momentum against Senate Bill 1062 continued to snowball Monday as a growing number of business leaders urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the religious-rights measure, which they say is already harming Arizona's economy.
Mirroring complaints expressed last week, business leaders Monday sent a letter urging Brewer to veto the legislation because they say it would expose businesses to a higher risk of lawsuits, hurt efforts to attract good workers and could be seen as discriminatory.
"We are troubled by any legislation that could be interpreted to permit discrimination against a particular group of people in the marketplace," the leaders said.
"The legislation is also already clearly having a negative effect on our tourism industry, one of the largest sectors of the economy. The bill could also harm job creation efforts and our ability to attract and retain talent."
The letter was signed by Tom Franz, president and CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership; Glenn Hamer, president and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Todd Sanders, president and CEO, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; and Ron Shoopman, president, Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
Supporters say the bill, written by the conservative-advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.
They say it would tweak existing state religious-freedom laws intended to ensure that individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.
A variety of other businesses also lined to oppose SB 1062.
The Arizona Technology Council on Sunday urged Brewer to veto the bill. Anthony Wanger, president of IO, a Phoenix software company, issued a statement Monday urging a veto of SB 1062.
"IO values the contribution of all people and stands against discrimination in every form," he said. "Technology and business growth thrive on diversity, and we support diversity in Arizona."
Doug Parker, American Airlines Group chief executive,said fallout from the bill would slow down Arizona's economic recovery, hinder relocation of businesses to Arizona and hurt the convention-and-tourism industry.
"Our economy thrives when our doors to commerce are open to all," said Parker, who presided over US Airways in Tempe before a 2013 merger with American. "This bill sends the wrong message."
Rachel Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is supporting the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association's position against SB 1062 because it is a statewide issue.
"We're greatly concerned," said Kristen Jarnagin, spokeswoman for the tourism association. "We've already received countless phone calls and e-mails from people canceling trips or threatening not to return."
The Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau referred questions about its stance on SB 1062 to Jarnagin.
Visit Tucson, the city's tourism bureau, also spoke out against SB 1062 in a letter signed by Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson president and CEO, and J. Felipe Garcia, the group's executive vice president.
"A bill like this will potentially lead to discrimination and could result in groups being discouraged in conducting business in Arizona," the letter said. "Specifically we are concerned about, again, running the risk of organizations, individuals and businesses deciding not to visit or meet in Arizona."
Even Republican lawmakers in Arizona began urging Brewer to veto the bill, including U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and several state senators.
Opponents call the legislation the "right to discriminate" bill because it protects business owners who decide, based on their religious beliefs, not to serve an individual or group of individuals.
SB 1062 is linked to a New Mexico legal battle involving photographer Elaine Huguenin, who told Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth that she would not photograph their commitment ceremony in 2006 because it went against her religious beliefs.
Willock sued Huguenin, claiming the photographer engaged in sexual-orientation discrimination against her and Collins by refusing to photograph their ceremony.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Huguenin last year.
Some local wedding photographers are split on the issue.
Karen Sophia of Phoenix said she would not discriminate in photographing a same-sex wedding but believes a wedding photographer should have the right to turn down a gay couple.
Scott Schauer of Scottsdale said he is a proud Christian but does not have any issues with photographing same-sex weddings.
"I don't think it's my job to decide who should get married," he said, adding that the government should also not decide who can marry.
Since 1989, Schauer said he has photographed close to 1,000 weddings in Arizona and California, including four commitment ceremonies for lesbian couples.
"What's the saying? If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said.
On Friday, a chorus of organizations, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association spoke out against the economic harm the bill could cause.
GPEC Chairman James Lundy, CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona, and Barry Broome, president and CEO of GPEC, said in a letter Friday that with the Super Bowl scheduled next year at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will be at 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.
"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."
The bill was transmitted to Brewer's desk Monday afternoon. She now has until the end of the day Saturday to veto, sign or ignore it.