After a week of controversy, protests and debate, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Wednesday night.
Brewer had until Saturday to veto or sign the bill that was passed by both the House and the Senate last week. After the Arizona Legislature passed the bill, there was nationwide backlash with opponents saying it would give businesses the right to discriminate against the gay and lesbian community.
Brewer faced pressure to veto the bill, with many saying it would hurt Arizona economically.
“As with every proposal that reaches my desk, I gave Senate Bill 1062 careful evaluation and deliberate consideration. I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or boos from the crowd,” said Brewer. “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. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
While Sen. Al Melvin, District 11 – Tucson, expressed disappointment in the veto, many other lawmakers applauded Brewer’s decision.
Melvin said Republicans must continue to fight.
“Let us learn from the process we have just come through so that we can do a better job next time of communicating our intent,” he said. “Let us do a better job of reaching out to groups who likely mean well but who are otherwise swept up in the hysteria and misinformation that greets legislation like this. We need to recognize that the attacks on Christian businesses we spoke about were in other states like New Mexico and Oregon. Until people see it happening here in Arizona, our efforts will be too easily dismissed.”
House Speaker Andy Tobin said, “I respect the Governor’s position to veto SB1062, especially in light of the concerns brought up over the past week. I understand the concerns of people of good faith on all sides of this issue.”
U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., released the following statement
after Brewer announced her decision.
“I join Arizonans across our great state in thanking Governor Brewer for vetoing SB1062,” she said. “Arizona dearly needed this responsible leadership after suffering so much at the hands of our Legislature. I hope her veto will shield Arizona from further damage, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. The lawmakers who rammed this bill through our Legislature owe Arizona an apology and an explanation of why and how they rushed it without input from citizens, the business community and tourism bureaus. We need answers so we can ensure this never happens again. Arizona deserves better.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, ““I appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation. 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.”
In her explanation, Brewer said, “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 no one would 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 Arizonans and Americans.”