TIME Gay Rights

Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill Seen as Anti-Gay

Gov. Jan Brewer faced intense pressure to kill the SB1062 legislation

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Wednesday a controversial bill that LGBT rights advocates said would have sanctioned anti-gay discrimination in the state.

“After weighing all of the arguments I vetoed SB1062 moments ago,” Brewer said in a press conference Wednesday evening. In her brief comments, the governor had stern words for the legislature that sent her the bill rather than legislation that addresses what she described as more pressing concerns, like the state’s broken child welfare system.

“I’ve not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners religious liberty has been violated,” Brewer said. She said religious liberty is a core Arizona value, but “so is non-discrimination.” She added, “The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

The bill would have protected Arizona business owners who refused to provide services to gays out of religious conviction from being sued in court.

Advocates of the measure, which passed in the state House and Senate last week, say SB1062 merely protects the religious liberty of business owners, but gay rights activists say the bill would have represented a step backward on civil rights in the U.S. by condoning discrimination.

In mulling over whether or not to veto the legislation, the basic tenets of which she has expressed support for, Brewer had promised Monday to “do the right thing for the state of Arizona.”

Many feared that if SB1062 became law it would turn Arizona into a pariah state and drive businesses away in addition to making the state vulnerable to lawsuits. Brewer faced concerted pressure to veto the measure, including from high profile fellow Republicans like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the state’s two Senators in Washington. Three of the original GOP state senators who voted for the bill later signed a letter asking Brewer to veto it.

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