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AZ Gov. vetoes 'religious freedom' bill

8:51 PM, Feb 26, 2014   |    comments
Gov. Jan Brewer
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PHOENIX -- Facing intense pressure from political and business interests and a growing public outcry, Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday that she had vetoed Senate Bill 1062, the divisive right to refuse service legislation.

The Republican governor announced the bill was unnecessary legislation that threatened the state's recovering economy by driving away high-profile events such as next year's Super Bowl and corporations looking to relocate to Arizona.

Her veto - coming two days after state lawmakers sent SB 1062 to her desk - capped a week of escalating furor over the bill that once again catapulted Arizona's political into the national spotlight.

The state's Republican U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hundreds of protestors and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, which is preparing for the 2015 NFL championship game, all urged the governor to veto the bill, saying it could wreck the state's post-recession recovery. National political figures such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also weighed in this week to urge Brewer to nix the measure.

Supporters of the bill, who argued it provided needed religious protections, acknowledged defeat. Four Republican lawmakers who voted for the SB 1062 walked back their votes, saying they hoped Brewer would veto it.

Brewer's much-anticipated decision came after days of talking with staff, political advisers and legal counsel.

Had Brewer signed it into law, SB 1062 would have offered a legal defense for individuals and businesses that face discrimination lawsuits if they could prove they acted upon a "sincerely-held religious belief."

Similar efforts in Idaho, and Kansas and were recently proposed, but have not moved forward.

In Arizona, opponents said business owners would use the legal shield to deny service to any individual or group that offends a business owner's religious beliefs. Service to people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, among others.

(Arizona Republic/AZCentral)

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