Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes anti-gay bill

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced Wednesday she vetoed a controversial bill that critics said would provide businesses with a license to discriminate against LGBT people.

“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated,” Brewer told reporters. “The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.”

The announcement comes after a week of controversy. Senate Bill 1062, known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” was approved by the Arizona House with a 33-27 vote last Thursday and by the Arizona Senate with a 17-13 vote earlier this month. While supporters of the bill argue it would expand religious freedom and protections, opponents — and in particular LGBT-rights groups — have said the bill’s broad language would allow any individual, corporation, institution or business organization to refuse service to LGBT people by claiming a religious belief.

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, who are both Republicans, urged Brewer to veto the legislation, as did a number of business leaders. Marriott, American Airlines and Apple all expressed their opposition to the bill as well. At least three state senators who voted for the bill later urged Brewer to veto the legislation. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had also voiced his opposition to the bill via Twitter on Tuesday. 

[Photo: Jan Brewer. Credit: Gage Skidmore.]

Read Brewer’s full remarks here: 

Good evening, and thank you for joining me here today.

I am here to announce my decision on Senate Bill 1062.

As with every proposal that reaches my desk, I gave Senate Bill 1062 careful evaluation and deliberate consideration. I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or boos from the crowd.

I took the time necessary to make the RIGHT decision. I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.

I listened . . . and asked questions.

As Governor, I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in OUR state.

And I have the record to prove it.

My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona.

When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear…

Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic Comeback.

From CEOs — to entrepreneurs — to business surveys — Arizona ranks as one the best states to grow or start a business.

Additionally, our IMMEDIATE challenge is fixing a broken Child Protection system.

Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.

The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.

After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before.

Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.

It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.

Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination.

Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans.

Thank you.

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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