Citing SB 1062, Lawyers Cancel Phoenix Convention

February 26, 2014

The Hispanic National Bar Association is cancelling its 2015 convention in Phoenix. In a statement on its website, the group said Arizona's Senate Bill 1062 is to blame.

Gov. Jan Brewer still has a few more days to decide if she will sign the legislation, which has been referred to as the religious-freedom bill. It would protect businesses that refuse service to anyone because of deeply held religious beliefs, but the group of lawyers did not wait on the governor to make a decision. The National Hispanic Bar Association voted unanimously not to hold next year’s meeting in Phoenix.

"As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice,” said HNBA President Miguel Alexander Pozo, in the statement.

Last year, the group’s convention drew about 2,000 people to Denver.

Business and tourism groups have asked the governor to veto the bill. They fear it would cause backlash to the convention and tourism industry because critics of the bill say it sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians. Supporters of SB 1062 say growing hostility to religious freedom requires the state to protect the liberties of every citizen.