The bill would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays and others based on religious beliefs.
PHOENIX -- Facing intense pressure from political and business interests and a growing public outcry, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday that she had vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays and others based on religious beliefs.
Brewer said the bill was unnecessary legislation that threatened the state's recovering economy by driving away high-profile events such as next year's Super Bowl and corporations looking to relocate to Arizona.
"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value — so is non-discrimination," Brewer said at a news conference announcing the veto.
She said the proposed law, known as Senate Bill 1062, was too broadly worded and could have resulted in "unintended and negative consequences."
Brewer also said she hasn't heard of a single instance in which an Arizona business owner's religious liberty was violated.
"After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago," Brewer said at the news conference. "Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve."
Her veto – coming two days after state lawmakers sent the measure to her desk – capped a week of escalating furor over the bill.
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 is preparing for the 2015 game, all urged the governor to veto the bill. Secretary of State John Kerry and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also weighed urged Brewer to nix the measure.
Supporters of the bill, who argued it provided needed religious protections, acknowledged defeat. Four Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill walked back their votes this week, saying they hoped Brewer would veto it.
The conservative advocacy organization the Center for Arizona Policy was behind the bill, along with the Christian-based legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod said the bill did nothing more than try to assure that laws could not force people to violate their faith unless there is a compelling governmental interest.
"It is truly a tragic day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can over shadow the truth," she said.
Had Brewer signed it into law, the bill would have offered a legal defense for individuals and businesses that face discrimination lawsuits if they could prove they acted upon a "sincerely-held religious belief."
Similar efforts in Idaho, and Kansas and were recently proposed, but have not moved forward.