US governor vetoes controversial anti-gay bill
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer makes a statement saying she vetoed the controversial Senate Bill 1062 bill, at Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix February 26, 2014. REUTERS PhotoThe governor of the US state of Arizona vetoed a controversial bill Wednesday that would have let businesses refuse to serve gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Triggering applause from rights groups, hardline Republican Jan Brewer said the measure was "broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences." "After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago." The bill, passed by lawmakers last week, had provoked anger from gay rights campaigners around the country who said the southwestern state was "on the wrong side of history." Supporters, however, claimed the bill would have protected the religious freedom of business owners. "Today's veto of SB 1062 marks a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty," said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy.
"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. 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." Brewer said she understood "that long held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes."
"However, I sincerely believe that Senate bill 1062 has a potential to create more problems than it purports to solve (and) could divide in Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want."
While the measure "does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona," Brewer claimed, it "could result in unintended and negative consequences."
"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value," she said.
But "so is non-discrimination. Let's turn the ugliness of the debate over (the bill) into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans."
Critics of the measure, who had gathered to hear the widely expected announcement, erupted into applause and dancing when Brewer announced her veto.
"Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else," said Alessandra Soler, head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)'s Arizona branch.
"We're grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone."
Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon and tourism, a mainstay of the local economy, could have taken a hit had the bill become law.
Senator John McCain, a Republican who represents Arizona in Washington, hailed the decision.
"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," he said.