Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes anti-gay measure SB 1062

SOURCE: azgovernor.gov

A controversial bill that would enable businesses to refuse services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals in Arizona was vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer this afternoon. 

“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,” said Brewer. “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.”

SB 1062 would allow businesses to assert a “free exercise of religion” defense in a judicial proceeding regardless of whether or not the government is a party to the proceeding. The law would, in effect, allow businesses to discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation under the guise of religious freedom.

The bill passed the state legislature last week with 33 votes in the House and 17 votes in the Senate. Its passage provoked widespread outrage. Major corporations, LGBT rights groups, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and sports organizations have urged Brewer to veto SB 1062.

The national backlash appeared to have pressured Brewer, a social conservative, to prevent the bill from becoming law.

Brewer, who has supported laws that exempt religiously affiliated businesses from contraception coverage, expressed sympathy for proponents of SB 1062 but she feared the bill could divide the state in harmful ways.

“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,” said Brewer. “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.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Brewer did the right thing by vetoing what he called a “license to discrimination.”

“With today’s veto, Governor Brewer spared her state from institutional discrimination and economic catastrophe. Make no mistake, there is no better way to doom jobs in a state than by signing license-to-discriminate bills,” said Griffin.

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