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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 09
Arizona Governor vetoes anti-Gay bill
Section One
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Arizona Governor vetoes anti-Gay bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have authorized discrimination against LGBT people in the state, as long as it was justified on religious grounds.

The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences, Brewer told reporters at a February 26 news conference. After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona, the governor added. I call them like I seem them despite the tears or the boos from the crowd.

Brewer said she gave the legislation careful consideration, and consulted with lawyers, citizens, and lawmakers on both sides of the debate.

Although the news conference was hastily called, a large crowd of pro-LGBT demonstrators gathered at the state capitol building in Phoenix before Brewer spoke. They broke into cheers when she announced the veto.

The bill, known as SB 1062, would have allowed people to cite their religious beliefs as a defense against lawsuits alleging anti-LGBT discrimination. It passed both houses of the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature in February.

Backers of the bill pointed to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision that allowed a Gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to work at their wedding, even though the law that allowed that suit is not on the books in Arizona.

Opponents called it an open attack on the LGBT community and an invitation to anti-Gay discrimination.

The heart of this bill would allow for discrimination versus gays and lesbians, said Democratic state Senator Steve Gallardo. You cant argue the fact that bill will invite discrimination. Thats the point of this bill. It is.

As days passed with Brewer giving no clue to how she felt about the bill, Phoenix business groups publicly worried that it would remind potential customers of the national backlash over Arizonas 2010 immigration-crackdown law, SB 1070, and warned that businesses looking to expand into the state may not do so if the bill became law.

Huge national corporations like Apple Inc. and American Airlines also joined the chorus of opposition, and the NFL warned the state that it would consider moving the 2015 Super Bowl  scheduled for the University of Phoenix stadium  to another venue if Brewer signed the bill.

Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard, NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said in a February 25 statement. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.

Arizonas Republican U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, also urged Brewer to veto SB 1062, as did three of the Republican state legislators who originally voted to pass it.

The three state lawmakers said in a letter to Brewer that the intent of their vote was to create a shield for all citizens religious liberties, [but] the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.

McCain later issued a statement applauding Brewers decision.

I appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation, he wrote. 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.

SB 1062 had been pushed by a right-wing group calling itself The Center for Arizona Policy. The group said Brewers veto marks a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.

LGBT rights organizations, on the other hand, reacted with glee.

With todays veto, Governor Brewer spared her state from institutional discrimination and economic catastrophe. Make no mistake, there is no better way to doom jobs in a state than by signing license-to-discriminate bills, said HRC President Chad Griffin.

We thank Governor Brewer for her decision to veto this outrageous measure  a law that if enacted would be bad for Arizona people and the Arizona economy, the Task Force said in their statement. In doing so, she has stopped a bill that both cynically uses religion as a smokescreen to justify discrimination and insults people of faith who feel that discrimination is morally wrong. This decision sends a clear message that extremism is totally unacceptable to people of all political persuasions.

Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else, said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. Were grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.

Discrimination is not an American value, plain and simple, said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis.

Arizona's recent history has taught corporate and civic leaders that discrimination is terrible for business, Lambda Legal added. This religion bill would have reversed the state's hard-won economic progress by declaring open season on LGBT people. Everyone in Arizona deserves respect and inclusion, including same-sex couples and their families, and people of all faiths and backgrounds.

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