Arizona governor vetoes controversial anti-gay bill SB1062

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Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer has vetoed controversial anti-gay bill SB1062. The legislation would have allowed the refusal of service to anyone if doing otherwise would violate a “sincerely held religious belief.” 

Under the legislation, any “individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity” is legally excused from anti-discrimination ordinances if there is a conflict between the law and their “religious mission.” 

Many organizations and individuals have decried the legislation as blatantly homophobic, drawing parallels to the Jim Crow laws of the 1950s. Among them were: businesses including Delta Airlines, Yelp, and nearly one hundred other major corporations who do business in or with Arizona. Arizona’s politicians, including Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, were also in favor of vetoing the legislation. 

If Brewer had signed the bill, the law would have violated the NFL’s anti-discrimination rules. Just this afternoon, before a decision had been reached, the NFL announced they were searching for a new 2015 Super Bowl location. 

The New civil Rights Movement notes that if Brewer had signed the bill into law, it “would almost certainly have been struck down as unconstitutional.”

Because three of the Republican state lawmakers who had voted for the measure came out after its passage to say they had changed their minds and now oppose the legislation, the bill is not expected to win enough support to overcome Brewer’s veto, which would require two-thirds of the votes in the Legislature.

Republican Senator Steve Yarbrough, who introduced and pushed for the bill, said that his motivation behind it was the 2006 case of photographer Elane Huguenin, who was charged with discrimination by New Mexico’s Supreme Court for using religion as her reason behind refusing to photograph the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple. 

In a debate on February 19, Yarbrough added the claim that allowing groups such as the LGBT community equal rights is in itself discriminating against those with homophobic views: “This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Arizona Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar said in a statement released shortly after the passage of the bill, “Arizona does not need this bill, Arizonans do not want this bill and there is no place for this bill in our modern society. We have come too far to turn back the clock with such a disgraceful assault on members of our community based on their sexual orientation.”

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