PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.
The controversial measure faced a surge of opposition in recent days from large corporations and athletic organizations, including Delta Air Lines, the Super Bowl host committee and Major League Baseball.
Fiercely divided supporters and opponents of the bill ramped up pressure on Brewer after the state’s Republican-led Legislature approved it last week.
On Wednesday, the governor said she made the decision she knew was right for Arizona.
“I call them as I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd,” Brewer said, criticizing what she described as a “broadly worded” bill that “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
Brewer said she’d weighed the arguments on both sides before vetoing the measure, which is known as SB 1062.
“To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” she said. “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.”
Her announcement spurred cheering and hugs by protesters of the bill outside the state Capitol in Phoenix.
Banners urging Brewer to veto the bill were quickly swapped for signs praising her decision.
“Thank you Governor Brewer,” they said. “Arizona is open for business to everyone!”