Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes anti-gay bill

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that she has vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

Opinions have been sharply divided over the politically charged measure, with both sides ramping up pressure on Brewer after the state’s Republican-led legislature approved the bill last week.

Brewer said she made the decision she knew was right for her state.

“I call them as I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd,” she said, calling the bill “broadly worded” and saying it could have unintended consequences.

Brewer said she’d weighed the arguments on both sides.

“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 in Phoenix.

The measure, known as SB 1062, would have given Arizona businesses that assert their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

Opponents said it encouraged discrimination against gays and lesbians, while supporters argued it allowed for religious freedom.

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 is 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.

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.

Before she vetoed the bill, Brewer wouldn’t reveal her intentions in an interview with CNN on Monday in Washington, where she attended a meeting of governors.

“I can assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the state of Arizona,” she said.

Economic 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.

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

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

State Rep. Heather Carter, one of three state house Republicans who voted against this bill, said her phone started ringing as soon as it passed the state’s Senate.

A “groundswell” of phone calls and e-mails from friends, family, and other people she respects, she said, told her “you can’t vote for this bill, it’s a bad bill.”

This reaction, she said, told her something. She could not vote for the bill if there was “even the off-chance that discrimination could happen.”

But supporters of the bill have been just as vocal.

The measure, which was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, has also drawn staunch support from those who say the federal courts have increasingly pushed a pro-gay rights agenda.

Freedom or oppression? That’s the question for Arizona’s SB 1062

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

A double standard?

Supporters also see, 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.”

If the tables were turned, Republican Arizona state Rep. Sonny Borrelli said, many opponents of the measure wouldn’t be nearly as tolerant as they claim.

“You have a gay person that owns a printing shop, OK. Somebody from the Westboro Baptist Church comes in there and demands that they print and sign that, obviously, the printer is not going to agree with,” he said. “Should that religious group demand that print shop print that thing?”

Protests surge

After the bill passed, Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson placed a sign in its window stating “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators.”

The restaurant’s Facebook page received more than 20,000 likes for the sign and comments from fans saying things like “Y’all rock! Stand up for human rights!”

Gay-rights activists have stood outside the state Capitol building in Phoenix for days protesting the measure.

Businesses lash out over Arizona’s anti-gay bill

The Arizona Catholic Conference released a statement urging supporters to encourage Brewer to sign the bill into law.

“The threats to religious liberty have become very real… S.B. 1062 will help avoid the situations being experienced around the country where businesses are being forced to close because of their owners’ faith,” the organization’s statement read.

13 comments

    • Thomas

      I agree….the silent majority of this nation that is Christian and that indeed is against the homosexual lifestyle (regardless of what biased polling may state) is tired of being force-fed godless, liberal policies and being treated like second-class citizens. We can reclaim our formerly free country that was founded on religious freedom with either the ballot or by OTHER MEANS; I am fine with either option.

      • Graham

        So what you’re saying is you’re tired of being force fed things that don’t affect you directly? And you want to “reclaim” the country so you can force feed intolerance down other people’s throats?

        Sounds pretty christian.

      • Jenny

        Religious freedom is one thing, separation of church and state is another. America has never been more free and it sounds like if you had power you would do the opposite of making America more free.

        No one treats you like second class citizens. No one gets the chance to when you guys always play the victim card.

        “OH WOE IS ME GAYS CAN GET MARRIED THIS AFFECTS ME SO MUCH”

      • dewey

        personally, I, as a non-Christstain, would love for you to celebrate your religion…preferably in church or the confines of your own home….as for second class citizens, that’s of your own doing….as a secular being, imagination doesn’t cause me to separate myself from everyone else on a belief that I’m better than them….now, you want to take back your country….you mean the country I enlisted to serve?? You talkin about that one??? And don’t think for a second that you are the only one holdin heat….the same way you would get up to “take back” something that never really belonged to you is the same way I already stood up to defend her

  • Will Grant

    Don’t be too surprised by any of this. The Lord Himself warned us that stuff like this would happen.

    We have to be patient and let AIDS do its thing.

    • dewey

      you do know that when the lies were written, they had no idea North America existed….actually, they were pretty dumb to anything that wasn’t around the Mediterranean…..yet for some reason, this book applies to the whole world

  • sinnerfrank

    People made a big deal out of this, she vetoed the same basic bill about a year ago !! Just something to keep people distracted !! As far as the AIDS do it thing comment Willy,your tax money pays for their Meds as well as transportation and a CHECK to live on,Now that is what I get pissed about !! Not some Mickey Mouse Politico BS!!

  • Johnny

    This country was founded on religious freedom, true. However, this country was also founded on the principal that religion has no place in the government.

    You guys think you are the voice of morality, but hating your fellow man is far from moral.

  • Brady

    I like that this article fails to mention that well known REPUBS like McCain and Romney were urging her to veto this bill.

    • JT

      Yeah, and what I find funny about that, Brady, is that human rights were not behind their urging her to veto it–money was. “Think of the business opportunities/revenue we will miss out on!” was their battle cry. As for earlier comments regarding religious majorities, etc., well, first, we are not a mobocracy. Majority DOES NOT rule. Secondly, we are not a theocracy. I find it interesting that evangelicals are afraid of Islamic Sharia law, but want to enact a pseudo-Christian form of Sharia law here. Further, exactly how far do you want to take this “I’m doing/not doing this on basis of religion” argument? In the same book they use to justify/sanctify their bigotry, it also says we should stone people who wear clothes made of two different fabrics, stone our children for back-talk, stone people who work on Sunday, put menstruating women in a hut away from everyone and break any dish/pot they touch, own slaves, NOT GET DIVORCES, etc. So you see what kind of very slippery slope you are on when you use Bronze Age literature to guide you in the 21st Century.

      • dewey

        worst book ever written……I love how, when on the wrong side of it, it’s a book of parables…but when on the other side, it’s the gospel truth

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