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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gov. Brewer Vetoes "Anti Gay" Bill in Arizona- BBC

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoes 'anti-gay' bill

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners who cited their religious beliefs to turn away gay customers.

Ms Brewer said the bill could have had "unintended and negative consequences".

It was touted as a religious liberty protection by social conservatives. Its opponents denounced it as legalising anti-gay discrimination.

Business groups warned it would tarnish the state's reputation and discourage companies from moving to the state.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Brewer, a Republican, said the bill did 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," she said of the bill, which passed the state legislature last week with the strong backing of the state's Republican Party.

Ms Brewer spent Wednesday speaking to both supporters and opponents of the bill and said she had vetoed it because she believed it had "the potential to create more problems that it purports to solve".
Loud cheers erupted outside the Arizona capitol building immediately after the governor announced the veto.

Similar bills have been introduced in seven other US states, but Arizona's was the only legislature to send a bill to the governor.

All but three Republicans in the state legislature voted in favour of the proposal, known as SB1062, but some Republican state senators who voted for the bill subsequently called for a veto.

"We were uncomfortable with it to start with and went along with it thinking it was good for the caucus," Senator Steve Pierce told the Associated Press news agency on Monday.

"We really didn't want to vote for it. But we made a mistake, and now we're trying to do what's right and correct it."

In the end, Ms Brewer sided with the business community - including firms such as Intel, Yelp, Marriott and Major League Baseball and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

But supporters, framing it as only a modest update on the state's existing religious freedom law, had pushed the state leader to sign it in support of religious liberty.
The bill's author, State Senator Steve Yarbrough, argued in debate his bill was "about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith".

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