Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, a controversial bill that would have allowed religious beliefs as a defense for denying service to gays and others. The bill aimed to preempt a situation where Arizona business owners are forced to provide services that violate their conscious, or religious freedom.
Brewer, who took several days to consider whether or not to sign the bill, said it had “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.”
Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the measure backed by social conservatives, citing discrimination and its potential to hurt the state’s economy by driving away business.
But it was conservatives who were the most effective at garnering attention and opposing this bill, with our own Thomas Purcell articulating the conservative legal perspective. In his column, as well as radio show, Liberty Never Sleeps, Purcell slammed the GOP for what he called a lowering of the bar of the political process.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who had urged her to veto the measure, commented after a short press conference by the governor.
“I appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation. 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,” McCain said in a statement.
The Arizona legislature passed the bill last week allowing businesses whose owners cite sincerely held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and others. It allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.
The legislation caused a national uproar, with the business community, the state’s Super Bowl Committee and both Republican U.S. senators calling for a veto. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also offered his unwarranted and unsolicited opinion, urging Brewer to veto the bill.
In her remarks to reporters, Brewer said the bill “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.”
She also said it was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”