Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians on the basis of “religious freedom.”
The appalling piece of legislation was recently passed by the Republican dominated state legislature and was then sent to the governor for her approval or veto.
If made law, it would have allowed Arizona businesses and service providers to refuse to serve gays and lesbians if doing so was against their religious beliefs.
On Wednesday, Brewer announced at a press conference that she had rejected the bill.
She said that the legislation “does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” adding, “I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”
She went on to say that the bill is broadly worded and “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
Brewer explained that while she understood “that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before,” the bill “has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve” and “could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.”
Brewer had been urged by numerous corporations – including AT&T, American Express and Apple – as well as prominent Republican leaders, such as Senator John McCain, to veto the bill. Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) delivered 65,000 petition signatures to the governor also calling on her to dump the proposed law.
“With today’s 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,” commented HRC President Chad Griffin.
“Governor Brewer did the right thing in stopping this assault on businesses and the LGBT community and we call on her and the legislature – and governors and legislators in other states – to resist any attempt to give license to discrimination,” he said.
Similar discriminatory “religious freedom” bills have been proposed in other states, including Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Oregon. While most don’t specifically mention gays or lesbians, they are believed to be primarily aimed at targeting this community.