BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Capping a week of escalating controversy over legislation clearly aimed at the LGBT community, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, announced late in the day on February 26 that she was vetoing a bill to allow businesses to deny goods and services to individuals based on the “sincerely held” religious beliefs of their owners.
The measure, one of a number of similar initiatives proposed across the nation, drew condemnation not only from the LGBT community and other civil rights organizations, but also from many major businesses and even Republican leaders. Senator John McCain, Arizona’s senior US senator and the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, was joined by the party’s 2012 standard bearer, Mitt Romney, in calling on Brewer to veto the legislation.
The host committee for next year’s Super Bowl, scheduled for Phoenix, also condemned the bill.
“I call them like I see them, despite the cheers and boos from the crowd,” Brewer said in her veto statement. And though supporters claimed the bill addressed vital religious liberty concerns, the governor said it failed to identify specific problems in need of a fix and “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
Though some legislators insisted the measure did not target the gay community, time and again in the public debate the case of a New Mexico photographer who lost a discrimination case before that state’s supreme court after refusing to provide her services to a lesbian couple for their commitment ceremony was cited.