Governor Brewer vetoes SB 1062
Facing enormous pressure from interests both in and out of state, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has veotoed SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.
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!"
In the end, Brewer had little choice if she wanted to avoid a slew of lawsuits, boycotts, and other organized efforts to punish the state. Her statement makes it clear she was sympathetic to the goals of the bill, but realized the reality that Ariziona faced from an aroused LGBT community nationally.
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.
One voice we never heard about this issue was from President Obama. He made a big enough stink about Arizona's immigration enforcement law when Brewer signed it. Evidently, gay people don't rate as high on his political list as Hispanics.
There aren't very many states - if any - who will now move forward with similar legislation, fearing a backlash that could harm the state economically. It's a good lesson to remember: Politics and money trump matters of conscience every time.