Arizona Gov. Vetoes Controversial SB 1062

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial piece of legislation that its opponents billed as encouraging discrimination. On Wednesday, Brewer ignored last second cries of the bill’s supporters and went ahead with the veto. It was her first veto of the current session.

Brewer made it clear that she recognizes business owners who fear they would be forced to violate their religious believes, but according to her, the measure was flawed. She even took a jab at the Obama administration by suggesting the government and the courts are infringing too closely upon citizens’ religious freedoms.

Advocates of SB 1062 said the bill existed to protect the interest of business owner, however, Brewer insisted that the majority of businesses in Arizona were vehemently against the bill. Further, the Arizona Governor stated that SB 1062 was too openly worded and as a result, she worried about the consequences that might come of the bill.

Aside from the bill’s content, Brewer had previously laid out her priorities for the current session and wanted to stick to the agenda.  Her objectives for the current session include fixing the state’s budget issues and improve a flawed child-protection system. Brewer seemed disappointed that this was the first policy measure she had received this session and she deemed SB 1062 as an answer looking for a problem.

Brewer also said that there were several Republicans who were originally for the measure, but later came to her asking for a veto of the bill.

SB 1062 would have expanded the opportunity for business owners to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to not serve certain customers. Opponents of the bill have labeled it as permission to wrongfully exclude. The bill seemed to advocate for discrimination against gays and others who contradict traditional religious beliefs.

Brewer, though, never addressed sexual orientation during her discussion of the bill, possibly because Arizona already has a law that permits open discrimination against the gay community. Current Arizona legislation permits business owners to sidestep government laws against discrimination in the event that they can provide evidence that serving a certain customer would directly violate their personal religious views. The bill that Brewer vetoed on Wednesday would have protected business owners who discriminated due to religious beliefs in civil lawsuits.

The Arizona governor admitted that she feared passing SB 1062 would create an unimaginable divide in her state.

Arizona Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough, sponsor of SB 1062, said after the veto that the bill was misunderstood. Likewise, Sen. Yarbrough said that the worries produced by the measure in the gay community were unwarranted and not intended.

SB 1062 was created by the religious based Center for Arizona Policy group. After the bill’s veto on Wednesday, the group said that the bill was wrongfully portrayed as a discrimination mechanism against gays rather than what the bill was actually meant to be. Cathi Herrod, president of Center for Arizona Policy, said the bill was supposed to be entirely about religious liberties.

Republican Sen. Al Melvin of Tuscon, AR, an advocate for SB 1062, said that proponents of bill are going to have to wait until a new governor is elected before they can reincarnate the measure.

Arizona will hold election for governor on November 4th of this year.

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