Civil Rights Crisis Averted: Arizona Vetoes Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

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A bill in Arizona, known as SB 1062, has been widely considered an anti-gay bill by many, leading to protests and controversy over it’s future in the state. The bill was vetoed by Arizona’s Governor Janice Brewer Wednesday after the the state legislature — largely Republican — passed it. SB 1062 would have made it possible for businesses in Arizona to choose, based on their religious beliefs, to refuse service to the members of the LGBTQ community. The legislation expanded on previously existing law, widening the definitions around religious freedom and making it easier for those individuals to defend their actions.

The legislation got reactions from more than just the LGBTQ community in Arizona, drawing national attention and criticism from big companies including Delta, the Super Bowl Host Committee, and Major League Baseball. “Delta Air Lines is proud of the diversity of its customers and employees, and is deeply concerned about proposed measures in several states, including Georgia and Arizona, that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals,” said Delta in a statement.

We have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to [diversity] but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential,” read the statement from the Super Bowl Host Committee. The economic affects of the law have become the leading non-social reason for striking down the law. “MLB has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation,” read the MLB’s statement, referring to itself as “the sport of Jackie Robinson.”

Governor Brewer spoke at a press conference on her decision to veto the law, saying that she had not simply been swayed by the opinions coming at her from the public. “I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or boos from the crowd,” said Brewer. “I took the time necessary to make the right decision. I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers, and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.” She added that she does not believe the legislation is being made in response to real problems being faced for religious individuals on their liberty, adding that, “The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences … I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”

In her letter to the State Senate and its President Andy Biggs, she notes that those examples given as impetus for the protective measure on religious liberty were out of state and did not directly affect Arizona. She also said that, though “actions taken by the Obama Administration, as well as some federal and out-of-state courts” have highlighted religious freedom concerns, it is problematic for her that “the bill … would allow the assertion of the defense regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.” Brewer finished by encouraging that other issues, such as child safety and economic recovery, be addressed going forward instead.

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