Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer silenced the vitriolic outcry over Senate Bill 1062 with a veto early Wednesday evening, eliciting relief from opponents who said it would lead to discrimination and hurt the state’s economy and reputation, and disappointment from supporters who maintained the bill’s intent had been distorted.
A somber Brewer announced her decision in a rare news conference in the rotunda outside her office.
“Senate Bill 1062 … could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want,” she told the room packed with journalists from around the country. “Let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans.”
SB 1062 would have offered a legal defense for individuals and businesses facing discrimination lawsuits if they proved they had acted on a “sincerely held religious belief.” Opponents argued it would legalize discrimination, in particular, allowing businesses to refuse to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Brewer acknowledged the concerns of those in her party who had supported the legislation, but said they were unwarranted.
“As governor, I have protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state,” she said. “Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”
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