Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected the state to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.
Brewer’s decision defused a national furor over gay rights and religious freedom.
She announced it Wednesday evening, after holding private meetings with opponents and proponents.
The bill backed by Republicans in the state Legislature was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays.
But opponents called it an open attack on gays that invited discrimination.
The bill thrust Arizona into the national spotlight last week after both chambers of the Legislature approved it. As the days passed, more and more groups, politicians and citizens weighed in against it.
Major League Baseball released a statement shortly after Brewer’s decision, criticizing her veto.
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 released a transcript of her reasons of deciding to veto the bill:
Good evening and thank you all for joining me here this evening.
I’m here to announce a decision on Senate Bill 1062. As with every proposal that reached my desk I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, especially to Senate Bill 1062.
I call them like I seem them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision.
I met and spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.
As governor I have asked questions, and I have listened. I have protected religious freedoms where there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state, and I have the record to prove it.
My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear. Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic comeback. From CEOs, to entrepreneurs, to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business.
Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.
Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona.
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. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.
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. 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.
Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizona and Americans.