Arizona Governor Vetoes Politically Charged Bill

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(CNN) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

The controversial measure faced a surge of opposition in recent days from large corporations and athletic organizations, including Delta Air Lines, the Super Bowl host committee and Major League Baseball.

Fiercely divided supporters and opponents of the bill ramped up pressure on Brewer after the state’s Republican-led Legislature approved it last week.

On Wednesday, the governor said she made the decision she knew was right for Arizona.

“I call them as I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd,” Brewer said, criticizing what she described as a “broadly worded” bill that “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

Brewer said she’d weighed the arguments on both sides before vetoing the measure, which is known as SB 1062.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Her announcement spurred cheering and hugs by protesters of the bill outside the state Capitol in Phoenix.

Banners urging Brewer to veto the bill were quickly swapped for signs praising her decision.

“Thank you Governor Brewer,” they said. “Arizona is open for business to everyone!”

Supporters, critics react to veto

Brewer’s veto drew swift praise from gay rights advocates.

“Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. “We’re grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.”

Doug Napier, an attorney representing the Alliance Defending Freedom, which helped craft the bill, criticized the governor’s decision.

“Freedom loses when fear overwhelms facts and a good bill is vetoed,” he said in a statement. “Today’s veto enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona.”

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, accused opponents of the measure of distorting facts.

“The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected and this bill did nothing more than affirm that,” said Herrod, whose conservative organization lent a hand in creating the bill. “It is truly a disappointing day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can overshadow the truth.”

Rep. Demion Clinco, the only openly gay member of Arizona’s House of Representatives, said he hoped the governor’s decision would start a new chapter after what he called a setback for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“In her vetoing the bill, I really feel like there’s a possible hope for reconciliation within our state, and we can move forward,” he told CNN’s AC360.

Bill sparked heated debate

Brewer returned home on Tuesday from a weekend in Washington with her state roiling over a values clash between arch conservatives and gay rights advocates. The state battle has national implications, as the issues it deals with play out in different ways in courts, state legislatures and on Main Street across the country.

The Arizona measure was particularly pointed and had vocal supporters behind it. They contended it was their legal right to oppose what they see as a gay-rights agenda nationally, and argued the bill allowed for religious freedom.

Opponents said the measure encouraged discrimination against gays and lesbians.

In addition to gay rights organizations, many businesses sharply criticized the measure, saying it would be bad for Arizona’s economy and could lead to discrimination lawsuits, boycotts and other disruptions.

Economic concerns

Large businesses including Apple, American Airlines, AT&T and Intel voiced opposition to the measure, and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee expressed concerns.

The bill also drew fire from some Republican lawmakers with generally social conservative beliefs.

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake publicly urged Brewer to veto the measure, citing worries about the economic impact on the state’s businesses.

McCain praised Brewer’s decision.

“I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful state of Arizona,” he said in a written statement.

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney recently tweeted that a veto of the bill was the right course.

Vocal supporters, opponents

Supporters of the bill were just as vocal. They say federal courts have increasingly pushed a pro-gay rights agenda.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said on his show that Brewer was “being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere.”

Supporters said they saw, in the opposition, a double standard in how the rights of gays and lesbians are supported versus those who have conservative religious views.

“I think what we need to do is respect both sides. We need to respect both opinions,” Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said Wednesday. “Just like we need to observe tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs.”

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • Skillpot

    Good show, Jan Brewer! Now, the AZ taxpayers should get the attention of the AZ legislature about wasting taxpayer monies on these social issues!

    • Saul Alinsky

      Wakeup , We need to start a union against the Alabama legislators, I know you will help me, you always have.

    • Stuck in BAMA

      Alabama can’t learn from the 50’s and 60’s….our only hope here is a sweeping ruling. Our state legislature is WORSE than Congress…

  • jamison jones

    But lets get something straight here. Has the LGBT community, usurped power from everybody thats ‘straight’? Why is the whole nation pandering to this ‘minority’ in such overwhelming zest? what about those issues that are for the ‘straight’ people? In all truth, it looks like the ‘straights’ have become the minority. I mean, thats just me. Nobody ever says ‘no’ to anything about these people either for political reasons or just pure $$$ sense. whats going on here?

  • jamison jones

    Where are the champions of good ‘ol traditional values? What happened to the ‘ways’ of the Bible? What about God? Where does His teaching on this subject abide? Whats happening? Who cares anymore? I mean are LGBT’S thats smart or have the strraights just become dumb and dumber? I mean its everywhere. You say anything against them to foster an argument, its a hate crime and a felony!. Whats left for the ‘straights’??

  • Augustine Valentine

    Hey Jamison, what about the good ‘ol teachings keeping straights from divorcing? 53 percent of marriages end in divorce now. So, even if 100 percent of all straights got married, then more than half will divorce and will not following the Bible teachings, are they? So that majority is not following God, is that the way you would see it? Jamison, are you black? back in the day were you and your kin not referred to as those people? Oh, btw, guess who the gay folks came from? Straight People !!!! Jamison, most LGBTs are smart college educated people with college degrees and full time white collar jobs.

  • Gomez

    what a coward she is! sodomites will live in hell burning forever. zero tolerance for openly homosexual idiots!!!

  • jamison jones

    what has been taken away from me, (us), the straights? well, society has not yet addressed the social and financial inequalities of divorces between heterosexuals, especially here in the US, the legal crashing effects of heterosexual divorces, child support and custody issues, the morality or immorality of heterosexual habits among a host of things. The man suffers the most in these issues and when we address them via any forum, we are dismissed as triffling…when LGBT’S flout any indifference, its met with ‘stun’ resistance and action from the politicians and business men. WHATS ‘OUR’ STATUS in this new state of affairs?

  • jamison jones

    Look, we have so many young men in jail because of defaulting on child support payments while the women engage in affairs with other men! where is the fairness in all this? men are having their checks harnessed by govt because of child support issues…not because they can’t pay but because of other economic and socal dynamics…can we start a war about this? when LGBT’S tripp over themselves on a banana pill, they call congress and the courts and are given all kinds of ‘rights’..whats up with that?

  • Michael

    There’s a much bigger issue going on than gay rights. Gay rights was just the medium here. This didn’t do anything to eliminate discrimination. Now, if I’m reading this right, a loon from the Westboro Baptist Church or some other hate group can now walk into a bakery or an airbrush shop and demand “God Hates ****” on it. The business owner now has no right to refuse them.

    This is what happens when freedom loses.

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