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February 27, 2014 Print

Arizona Family Group: Gov. Brewer’s Veto Marks ‘Sad Day for Arizonans’

by Bethany Monk

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation Wednesday evening that would have protected people of faith. Proponents of the bill are deeply disappointed — to say the least.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy — the primary organization behind the bill — said Brewer’s decision marks a sad day for those “who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

Passage of SB 1062 would have amended the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). It protects people of faith from laws and state actions that burden the free exercise of religion. Gay activists and news outlets, though, propagandized the bill as one that would that would allow “refusal of service to gays.” Some of them even referred to it as a “Jim Crow law.”

“Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits,” Herrod explained. “Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”

Earlier this week, nearly a dozen prominent law professors urged Brewer to examine the bill, which they said has been “egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.”

In their letter to the governor, the legal scholars point out that 18 states — including Arizona — have RFRAs. SB 1062 would have slightly amended it in the wake of recent court decisions. In one, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a Christian couple must photograph a same-sex wedding. The other involves a Health and Human Services mandate. It requires most businesses and nonprofits to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in employee health plans.

In her veto letter, Brewer claims the legislation is irrelevant in her state:

Senate Bill 1062, however, does not seek to address a specific and present concern related to Arizona businesses. The out-of-state examples cited by proponents of the bill, while concerning, are issues not currently existing in Arizona.

Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht said that given what is occurring around the country, Brewer’s statement is “less than convincing.”

“With the hostility to religious freedom we’ve seen from some federal and state courts over the last few years with regard to religious conscience, Arizona’s proposed amendments to its own laws were necessary, but minor and technical in nature,” he explained. “The governor should have issued a strong condemnation of those who, with intent, mischaracterized this bill in order to achieve a result they desired — the erosion of religious freedom and the silencing of those who advocate a biblical morality that contradicts what the world is currently offering.”

Read Brewer’s full remarks on the bill.

Read her veto letter.

Read the letter legal scholars sent to Gov. Brewer.

Learn more about the Center for Arizona Policy.

Read “Commentary: Wedding Cakes and Religious Freedom.”