After facing strong opposition to the bill from gay-rights activist groups, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062 (SB1062) Wednesday citing that the legislation "does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona." The bill would have protected business owners who refuse service to clients for genuine religious reasons.
Senate Bill 1062 stirred quite the controversy. While the legislation passed in the Arizona House and Senate quickly, national attention was brought to the issue when opponents on the bill said it would promote discrimination against same-sex couples. Supporters of the legislation argued that it was merely trying to protect business owners from facing litigation, such as a Christian company being sued after refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple or a Jewish business owner facing litigation for refusing to provide non-kosher meals. Lawsuits have arisen from similar scenarios in other states, but Governor Brewer said she had not heard of a single example where business owners' religious liberty had been violated within the state of Arizona. "The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences," she said.
Governor Brewer faced strong opinions from companies that plan to do business in the state. Google, who is considering building a fiber optic network in three major Arizona cities, is reportedly a leader in providing same-sex couple benefits to employees and reportedly expressed concern about the bill. Apple, who is planning to build a sapphire glass plant in Mesa, Arizona, also raised concerns. Fox News reports that both Major League Baseball and the National Football League expressed strong opposition to the bill as well. "My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona," Brewer said in last night's press conference.
Several republicans also called for the governor to veto SB1062; U.S. Arizona Senator John McCain urged Brewer to veto the bill earlier this week, and released a statement after her press conference last night. "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.
"I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before," Brewer said to the bill's supporters - "Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes; however, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve." She encourages Arizonans to search for respect and understanding instead of focusing on the controversy that the bill has brought to their state.