Gov. Nikki Haley said the legislature would have to decide if South Carolina needs to repeal a 1999 law that critics believe allows business owners to cite their religious faith in discriminating against gay and other minority customers.
"That's a question for the legislature," Haley said Wednesday. "The things we're focused on is very clear. It's jobs. It's education. It's making sure we're moving South Carolina forward. We don't spend time of which bills we need to repeal."
Government and business leaders have asked Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this week to veto a bill on her desk to extended religious freedoms to merchants. They expressed concerns about tourism and corporate boycotts and the possibility of losing next year's Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., if the bill becomes law.
South Carolina is one of 18 states that has religious freedom acts on the books, according to the Washington-based American Religious Freedom Program. The federal government also enacted a religious freedom law in 1993.
But the federal government and some states, including Arizona, do not include businesses in definitions of a "person" who need to have their religious rights protected.
South Carolina's 15-year-old law defines a person as "an individual, corporation, firm, partnership, association, or organization"
The laws are meant to protect people of faith when their rights are infringed by government -- not to discriminate against gays, the American Religious Freedom Program has said.
South Carolina's law focuses on government restrictions that could step on religious freedoms.
Arizona's proposal would widen this protection of beyond government regulations, which is where critics see potential for bias against gays and minorities based on religious beliefs.