Arizona Governor Jan Brewer assured the people of Arizona that she would do the right thing for the state via a tweet on February 25, and she kept her promise. The next day Gov. Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062, also known as the Religious Freedom Bill, a bill backed by Republicans which was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who refused to service gay people on the grounds that it was part of their religious beliefs.
Opponents called the bill an attack against gays and an attempt to legally discriminate against gay people, which would allow people to break nearly any law and cite religious freedom as a defense.
The bill set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination.
Major companies like Apple Inc, Marriott, American Airlines and the NFL, which hopes to hold the Super Bowl in Arizona spoke out against the bill. Former Republican presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney also urged Brewer to Veto the legislation.
Mitt Romney tweeted:
Below is a transcript of a statement she made regarding her veto of a bill allowing religious reasons for refusing service to gays on Wednesday, February 25, 2014:
Good evening and thank you all for joining me here this evening.
I’m here to announce a decision on Senate Bill 1062. As with every proposal that reached my desk I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, especially to Senate Bill 1062.
I call them like I seem them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision.
I met and spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.
As governor I have asked questions, and I have listened. I have protected religious freedoms where there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state, and I have the record to prove it.
My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear. Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic comeback. From CEOs, to entrepreneurs, to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business.
Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.
Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona.
I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.
To the supporters of this 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, 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 nobody could ever want.
Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizona and Americans.
Her decision defused a debate over gay rights and religious freedom in Arizona. At least for the moment.