Thursday, February 27, 2014
" the guardian 's take on arizona "
Tom Dart from the Guardian
27 - February - 2014
Arizona governor Jan Brewer has struck down a controversial law that opponents said would have allowed businesses in the state to discriminate against gay and lesbian people for religious reasons.
Senate bill 1062 was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature last week but vetoed by Brewer on Wednesday.
It would have given business owners with “sincerely held” religious beliefs the legal right to refuse service to anyone if it would conflict with those beliefs.
Critics said the measure was anti-gay and would prompt boycotts that could be bad for business. Those in favour of the bill claimed that it was intended to safeguard religious freedom and was simply a reinforcement of existing state law.
Brewer told a news conference in Phoenix that she vetoed the bill because it “could result in unintended and negative consequences” and that it “does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated”.
“I call them like I see them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision, I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.
“To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However I sincerely believe that Senate bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”
The Obama administration had earlier weighed into the controversy when secretary of state John Kerry told MSNBC that he was “counting on the governor. I cannot imagine how that law would withstand the scrutiny of the supreme court of the United States, so I would hope that she’ll make the right decision.”
Large companies were opposed to the bill and warned that it could damage the state’s economy, among them Apple, American Airlines, Marriott and Delta Airlines. Sports Illustrated reported that the NFL had started to investigate the possibility of moving next season’s Super Bowl away from Arizona. Major League Baseball issued a statement condemning the legislation.
Prominent Republicans also argued for a veto, including Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Brewer had not offered any prior hints regarding her decision, but pressure to reject the legislation had mounted this week and it was clear that Arizona’s image was in danger of being severely tarnished if the law passed. The Hispanic National Bar Association said earlier on Wednesday that it had scrapped plans to hold its annual convention in Arizona next year, calling the bill an “injustice”.
“We strongly support the right of every person to exercise their religious beliefs, but religious freedom doesn’t give any of us the right to harm others,” Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “The massive public opposition to this, as well as several other failed bills across the country, shows that Americans of all political persuasions and religions feel the same way.”
Amid the intense national focus on Arizona, a similar bill was withdrawn by politicians in Ohio on Wednesday. They conceded there was a risk that what they had envisaged as a law to protect religious freedom might encourage discrimination.
The news came a couple of hours after a legal ruling in Texas that appears to be a significant boost to proponents of marriage equality. A federal judge voided the state’s ban on gay marriage, saying it did not comply with the US constitution and demeaned the dignity of gay people.
However, the decision remains on hold pending an appeals court ruling expected later this year, and Republican politicians pledged to fight the judgment. The issue is ultimately expected to head to the Supreme Court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/arizona-governor-vetoes-anti-gay-bill
Posted by flo the frog at 2/27/2014 06:46:00 PM