Arizona Governor Feels Heat; Ices Religious Freedom Bill

By:  Warren Mass
Arizona Governor Feels Heat; Ices Religious Freedom Bill

Backing away from the controversy fueled by widespread negative media coverage, on February 26 Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062, which would have amended Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that business owners could avoid participating in activities contrary to their religious beliefs.

An article in the Seattle Times quoted state Senator Al Melvin, a Republican who is running for governor, who had voted for the bill. “I am sorry to hear that Governor Brewer has vetoed this bill. I’m sure it was a difficult choice for her, but it is a sad day when protecting liberty is considered controversial,” said Melvin.

Another supporter of the bill, state Sen. Steve Yarbrough, said during debate last week: “This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

Among those approving of Brewer’s veto was Arizona’s prominent neoconservative Senator John McCain, who on January 25 was censured in a resolution passed by the Arizona State Republican Party for campaigning as a conservative and then lending his support to issues “associated with liberal Democrats.” McCain’s statement read:

I appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation. I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful state of Arizona.

Between the time the legislature passed SB 1062 (and companion HB 2153) on February 21 and Brewer vetoed it on February 26, a media storm about the legislation blitzed the nation, with opponents of the bill predicting dire consequences for homosexuals in Arizona if the bill was enacted. As was noted in yesterday’s article in The New American, state Senator Al Melvin, who voted for the bill, claimed in an interview with CNN that it was the “media frenzy” over the bill — not the legislators and others who supported it — that's responsible for whatever damage the controversy has done to Arizona’s reputation.

The controversy did have its effect, particularly in the response it generated at the corporate level. The NFL, Major League Baseball, Apple, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Marriott International all signaled that they were opposed to the bill and welcomed a veto.

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Photo of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer: AP Images

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