News / USA

Activists, Businesses Applaud Arizona Gay Rights Law Veto

With the Arizona Capitol in the background, gay rights supporters Rachel Butas, right, and Jo Jo Halko kiss after the two learn that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announces she has vetoed SB1062, Feb. 26, 2014.
With the Arizona Capitol in the background, gay rights supporters Rachel Butas, right, and Jo Jo Halko kiss after the two learn that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announces she has vetoed SB1062, Feb. 26, 2014.
Chris Simkins
Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a proposed state law that would have allowed business owners with strong religious beliefs to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. The measure was rejected after sparking a national debate over religious freedom and gay rights.  

Cheers erupted outside state capitol building after the governor's veto. Since the bill's passage there had been growing opposition to it from major corporations, politicians in Washington, and state lawmakers in her own party.

At a news conference, Brewer called the bill unnecessary legislation that would hurt the state. "The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination."


Gay Rights activists applauded the governor's action, calling the bill blatantly discriminatory and embarrassing to the state.

"The people of Arizona have spoken and they were urging a veto," said one woman.

Supporters of the legislation say it was about protecting people's right to exercise religion freely. The bill was promoted by the Center for Arizona Policy, a social conservative group that opposes gay marriage. Its president, Cathi Herrod, helped write the legislation known as SB 1062.

"1062 is about one thing and one thing only, that Americans and Arizonian should be free to live and work according to their faith," said Herrod.

But Arizona Senator John McCain opposed the bill telling VOA the law should have been rejected. "I just do not think it is necessary and I think it is wrong. I am against it in principle. We certainly want to make sure that we do nothing that either is real or perceived discrimination."

Businesses react

Several major U.S. companies doing business in Arizona -- like Apple, American Airlines, and Marriott -- called for the bill's rejection, fearing it would hurt business.

The professional U.S. National Football League local organizing committee also said if the law was approved, it could have jeopardized plans for the state to host the Super Bowl next year.

Proponents of the legislation say it was designed to protect businesses like bakeries, flower shops and wedding photographers, who may have objections to same sex marriage. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state attorney generals he opposes laws influenced by politics.

"I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications base solely on sexual orientation and we must endeavor in all our efforts to uphold and advance the values that once led our fore bearers to declare unequivocally that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity," said Holder.

Political analysts say the controversy surrounding the legislation illustrates the state's residents are often more mainstream than its more conservative elected officials.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 28, 2014 4:18 AM
The Arizona anti-gay legislation, though now vetoed by an ill-informed governor, raises hope that all is not lost after all in USA. It gives hope that some day, maybe soon – and that has to be pretty soon – by which time the devil must have left the seat of government at the Capitol Hill in 2016, some sanity may return to the country once touted to be God’s own country. It raises hope in that the representatives of the people spoke the mind of the majority of the Arizonians contrary to the opinion that the people were more progressive than their “conservative” legislators. What really happened here was a case where the gay right activists were able to garner the interested stakeholders who though were the minority but who fought with their “last blood” to see to the reversal of the legislation. Yeah, the Arizona populace was only complacent and hoped that the law was going to be passed, hence it represented popular opinion in the state. The governor was misinformed in that she mistook the fractional presentation of the gay rights group – which may have habitually comprised of all gays in all of USA, Europe and beyond – to be the position of Arizona State. And talking about rights of association, freedom of association, etc., the state of Arizona appears to be forcing those groups that dislike the gay group to associate with them.

There is no freedom here. It is a state of coercion using state instrument to force persons, groups and organizations to associate with the choices of the state not theirs. It’s like forcing people to eat burger by state law. It’s like forcing muslims to go Church, or Christians to go to mosque. It’s the same as forcing all Americans to smoke cigarettes and marijuana; it’s like saying all Americans must eat one type of meal – just because they are in USA. It’s become a militarized or police situation where people are no longer free to do their own things, to freely associate, except as the state dictates. So what is the difference between this and communism or socialism? I see people’s freedoms being tampered with - eroded - in the most devastating way ever under the Obama administration where nothing again is good except it is gay; It's now a matter of who will outdo the other in this matter between the president and his defeated opponent – John McCain - believing this to be the happening thing now after the obamacare/budget deficit-fixing imbroglio.

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