Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday vetoed what had become known as the “anti-gay bill” that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay customers.
Proponents of the bill said the aim was to protect the rights of those whose religion prevented them from interacting with certain people.
Gov. Brewer likely would have signed the bill had the state’s business community at large not come out against the bill — with even the National Football League threatening to pull the Super Bowl out of Arizona.
“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer said in televised remarks. “I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”
Gov. Brewer added that the bill was “too broad” — a nod to her more conservative base who pushed for her to sign the bill.
While originally proposed so that businesses could refuse gay customers, the bill would also have stretched much further.
For instance, legal scholars said that as written, the bill would have allowed a business owner to refuse service to a divorced man or woman, if the owner felt that is what his Catholic faith stated.
Once the media began reporting on potential discrimination against others — and not just gay people — several Republicans even announced that they had voted the wrong way.
“SB 1062 passed the Legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith,” Cathi Herrod, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits. Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”
But conservatives hoping to continue to put social issues ahead of economic concerns in the state say they’ll keep spending their time pushing the issue.
Even though SB 1062 was vetoed, similar bills may be coming down the pipeline affecting the gay community, said state Rep. Demion Clinco, a Democrat from Tucson.
Clinco, who is the only openly gay representative in the House, said the failed legislation was part of a series of “preemptive bills” in anticipation of same-sex marriage possibly being allowed in Arizona.