Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed legislation that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against people under the cover of religious belief.
It was the right decision. The bill, known as SB 1062, should never have gotten to her desk, and the fact that it did with the support of all but three Republicans has damaged our state in the eyes of the nation and the world.
The chorus urging her to veto the noxious bill was loud and diverse. State Democrats urged her veto, and they were joined by an unlikely cast of characters from Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake to business interests and faith leaders. The governor’s office was slammed with calls, emails and letters urging her to veto.
Three other Republicans later said they’d erred in voting for it and wished they had not done so. Political courage after the fact isn’t courage at all. Still, their public change of heart added to the tidal wave against SB 1062.
Brewer said she consulted with attorneys, people for and against the bill, elected officials and business leaders before making her decision. When super powers like the National Football League expressed concern about the discrimination bill, there was no way to ignore the damage signing SB 1062 into law would cause.
Brewer ultimately was a pragmatist. In announcing her veto, she said: “Senate Bill 1062 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. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
While Brewer finally did the right thing, it is a sure bet that SB 1062 will not be the only move against civil rights during this legislative session. This is a temporary victory.
Arizona can’t afford another debacle. It is incumbent on every person energized by opposing SB 1062 to pay attention and make sure it doesn’t happen again.