Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed this evening a bill that would allow businesses to deny services based on religious grounds, such as a baker refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
“I call them like I see them despite the tears or the boos from the crowds,” the Republican governor said as protesters rallied outside her office.
Brewer said she met with attorneys, lawmakers and citizens on both sides of the issue after the bill landed on her desk. Those who urged her to veto the bill included former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.
Brewer said that as governor she has “protected religious freedoms when specific concerns” have arisen, but the bill presented to her was too broad.
She also tersely said that it fell outside of the scope of the agenda she sought this year. “I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear,” she said, noting she wanted a budget to keep Arizona “one of the best states to grow or start a business” and fixing a broken children protective system.
“Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk,” Brewer said. “…I have not heard one example where business owners’ religious liberties has been violated” in the state.
“I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged,” she added, but stressed that the bill as written carried the “potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”
She also said she feared it would divide Arizona “in ways no one could imagine.”
Brewer encouraged that people try to turn the “ugliness” that resulted from debate over the bill “into a new search for greater respect and understanding.”
The governor left without taking questions from the media.