On Feb. 26, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, as long as they asserted their religious beliefs.
When explaining the motive behind her decision, Brewer said, “I call them as I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd.” She further criticized the bill as being “broadly worded.”
“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.”
Protesters, gay rights organizations and many businesses including Apple, American Airlines, AT&T, Intel, and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee praised Brewer’s decision. They said had the bill been passed, it would have negatively impacted Arizona’s economy and could lead to discrimination lawsuits and boycotts.
The bill has sparked heated debate. Among the opponents of the bill are Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. McCain 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.”
However, supporters of the bill are claiming to see a “double standard.” They believe the rights of gays and lesbians are treated with more respect than those who have conservative religious views. For example, Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh believes Brewer was “being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere.”
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, added, “The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected and this bill did nothing more than affirm that.”
But perhaps the most optimistic outlook is to hope for a brighter, more open future for Arizona following the veto. Rep. Demion Clinco, the only openly gay member of Arizona’s House of Representatives, said is hoping that Brewer’s vetoing of the bill can start a new chapter for Arizona. He said, “I really feel like there’s a possible hope for reconciliation within our state, and we can move forward.”
Brewer, analyzing both sides of the argument, concluded, “Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”