The Arizona governor said the bill had “the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”
“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” she said. “I have not heard one example where business owners’ religious liberty has been violated.”
“To the supporters of the 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,” she said.
“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 no one would ever want.
“Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”
Brewer previously announced that she was weighing whether to support or veto the controversial bill.
“I have a history of deliberating and having open dialogue on bills that are controversial,” Brewer said the day before. “I don’t rely a whole lot on my gut.”
On Monday three Republican Arizona lawmakers backed away from their support for legislation that has been fiercely criticized as anti-gay, urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill they had previously backed.
The lawmakers explained to Brewer that the anti-gay bill had been “mischaracterized.” The governor had a few days to think over all the pros and cons and to decide whether to sign or veto the bill after it passed the legislature last week.
“While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm,” wrote Arizona state Sens. Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce, and Bob Worsley.
“As Arizona leaders, we feel it is important to loudly proclaim that we strongly condemn discrimination in any form,” he added.
Critics of the bill, which also include the state’s U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, urged Brewer do not sign the SB 1062. “The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected, and this bill does nothing more than affirm that,” Republican state Sen. Steve Yarbrough said.
Banners urging Brewer to veto the bill were quickly swapped for signs praising her decision. “Thank you Governor Brewer,” they said. “Arizona is open for business to everyone!”
Brewer’s veto drew swift praise from gay rights advocates.
“Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
“We’re grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.”