Arizona religious bill that angered gays vetoed

PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday vetoed a Republican bill that set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

Loud cheers erupted outside the Capitol building immediately after Brewer made her announcement.

“My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona,” Brewer said at a news conference. “I call them like I seem them despite the tears or the boos from the crowd. After weighing all the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.”

The Republican governor said she gave the legislation careful deliberation in talking to her lawyers, citizens, businesses and lawmakers on both sides of the debate. Her office said it received more than 40,000 calls and emails on the legislation, with most of them urging a veto.

Brewer said the bill “could divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever want.” The bill was broadly worded and could result in unintended negative consequences, she added.

The bill backed by Republicans in the Legislature was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays. But opponents called it an open attack on gays that invited discrimination.

The bill thrust Arizona into the national spotlight last week after both chambers of the state legislature approved it. As the days passed, more and more groups, politicians and average citizens weighed in against Senate Bill 1062. Many took to social media to criticize the bill.