Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have allowed business organizations to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs, warning that the measure could “create more problems than it purports to solve."
Last week, the bill was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature in a move that was seen as a backlash against the federal court's decision in several states, from Utah to Virginia, of recognizing marriage rights for same-sex couples.
"Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona," Brewer reportedly said, in a statement, adding that she has not heard of a single instance in which an Arizona business owner’s religious liberty had been violated.
"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value — so is non-discrimination," Brewer said at a news conference, announcing the veto, adding that Senate Bill 1062 “could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want."
People gathered outside the state Capitol building and reportedly began cheering immediately after Brewer's announcement.
According to reports, the state's Republican U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hundreds of protesters, and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, which has been preparing to host the event next year, all had urged Brewer to veto the bill.
Major League Baseball issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing the bill, saying: “As the sport of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs stand united behind the principles of respect, inclusion and acceptance. Those values are fundamental to our game's diverse players, employees and fans. We welcome individuals of different sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and national origins.”
Four Republican lawmakers who had supported the bill also took back their votes this week, saying that they hoped Brewer would veto it.
"It is truly a tragic day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can over shadow the truth," Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which supported the bill and helped draft it, reportedly said. “The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected, and this bill did nothing more than affirm that.”
According to Fox News, Senator Al Melvin, a Republican who had voted in favor of the bill, said he was disappointed by the veto.
"I am sorry to hear that Governor Brewer has vetoed this bill. I'm sure it was a difficult choice for her, but it is a sad day when protecting liberty is considered controversial," Melvin said.
Brewer reportedly said that their immediate challenge should have been “fixing a broken child protection system,” and noted: "Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk."