Arizona governor vetoes bill allowing religious reasons for refusing service to gays

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill allowing religious reasons for refusing service to gays Wednesday evening.  

Senate Bill 1062 set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected the state to criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

“I have not heard 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,” Brewer said Wednesday as she announced her decision.

“To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before,” she added. “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 nobody could ever want.”

Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the bill being pushed by social conservatives, saying it would allow discriminatory actions by businesses and hurt the state's economy by driving away business.

Even Major League Baseball issued a statement criticizing the legislation.

Before Brewer vetoed the bill Wednesday, the baseball commissioner's office said: "As the sport of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs stand united behind the principles of respect, inclusion and acceptance. Those values are fundamental to our game's diverse players, employees and fans. We welcome individuals of different sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and national origins."

The statement went on to say "MLB has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, as reflected by our collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association. Accordingly, MLB will neither support nor tolerate any words, attitudes or actions that imperil the inclusive communities that we have strived to foster within our game."

Brewer vetoed a similar measure last year, but that came during a battle over her push to expand Medicaid in the state after she imposed a signing moratorium to force the Legislature to approve her expansion proposal.


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