TODAY | February 26, 2014
>>> with our top story. and it's more critics lining up against the bill in arizona that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays. the decision of whether or not to veto this bill is now in the hands of governor jan brewer who just returned home from a trip to washington. mike taibbi in phoenix this morning with the latest. good morning to you.
>> reporter: good morning, savannah. governor brewer actually has until the end of the week to make her decision. but the pressure has been mounting to finally kill the bill that at the very least has reignited the culture wars . to the devout christians who gathered in a phoenix church tuesday night, the bill that triggered daily protests has nothing to do with gender-based discrimination and only to do with freedom of religious expression .
>> i have a right as a business owner to say i've refused to serve you for whatever particular reason.
>> but what if the reason is the customers are gay. like the same-sex couples are refused wedding flowers in washington state and a wedding cake in oregon? by show of hands , how many think that's okay?
>> to refuse?
>> yeah. absolutely.
>> reporter: but a lot of business owners have been doing the math. like the hotel owner who emphasizes he serves everyone but has already heard about possible cancellations.
>> $12,000 to $14,000 of lost revenue to the hotel. and that itself results in almost $2,000 in local and state sales tax revenues lost.
>> estimates are it's not thousands but untold millions at stake if the bill becomes law and triggers tourist flight.
>> this is a proposal that will send tourists away and their dollars.
>> reporter: that's why companies like apple and american airlines are urging a veto like john mccain and mitt romney and even state republican senators including steve pierce who supported and voted for the bill and have now changed their minds.
>> we made a mistake and now we've got to fix it.
>> overnight, governor brewer tweeted, i assure you as always, i'll do the right thing for the state of arizona . if governor brewer does veto the bill, conservative talkers say they know who is to blame.
>> you're being bullied by the homosexual lobby in arizona and elsewhere.
>> many of those in this church agree.
>> where does it stop?
>> reporter: now it's up to the governor. now, the governor has been careful to not tip her hand. but one of her aides was quoted yesterday as saying this bill was never part of her agenda. another hint that a veto is likely.
>> mike, thank you.
>> nicole wallace is a republican strategist who worked in the white house during the bush administration . nice to see you. good morning.
>> good morning.
>> let's look at this in both ways. let's say she decides not to veto this bill. business owners in arizona can decide not to provide service to or employment to people based on their sexual orientation. what's the immediate impact?
>> i don't think that's what she's going to do. but i think it took a long time last night to even find out and discover who was originally behind this. because even the republicans in the arizona state legislature who had voted for this measure have now reversed themselves. after seeing the way it's been received as diskrcriminatory. that's not how it's been understood by people of arizona .
>> let's say she does veto it, and keep in mind, this did have support at one time in arizona .
>> not too long ago.
>> passed both houses of the state legislature . if she does veto it, she's got cover, by the way, economic cover. what's the impact?
>> well, i think she will be viewed as having listened to not just the people of arizona who are now protesting in pretty large numbers, but in maybe sending a message to people who want to fight for religious liberties , which, again, is a noble cause those measures need to be more targeted and cannot send the message that arizona 's going to discriminate against any group of people.
>> you say it's a noble cause . but the bill itself does force the question, do the religious freedoms of one group trump the right not to be discriminated against for another group? how do you answer that question?
>> no doubt, in this case, they did not strike the right balance. but i think that we have to be careful not to paint this with too broad of brush. because i think the specific effort of trying to protect religious freedoms protecting anybody's personal belief system and not forcing them to do something that violates that. but in this case, no doubt, you've got republicans saying i hear you and understanding that the consequences of measures like this are so grave, not just for our party, but for our country to be viewed as not tolerating any group of people.
>> and since you can't take politics out of any issue these days coming up to a midterm election . if this bill becomes the law, what's the impact on the republican party ?
>> well, again, i don't think it's going to. i think she's going to veto it. but i think republicans are saying, i hear you, i understand the problems we've had in recent elections and we're not going to get painted with this brush that we discriminate against any group of people. i think it's also important to listen to businesses. you've got the super bowl threatening to relocate and move away. you've got apple, an employer in that state, very wary. so i think if she vetoes it, it's a sign she's listening not just to the people in her state but the employers in her state.
>> thanks very much.