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PHOENIX, AZ -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected the state to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

Brewer's decision defused a national furor over gay rights and religious freedom. She announced it Wednesday evening, after holding private meetings with opponents and proponents. The bill backed by Republicans in the state Legislature was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays. But opponents called it an open attack on gays that invited discrimination.

The bill thrust Arizona into the national spotlight last week after both chambers of the Legislature approved it. As the days passed, more and more groups, politicians and citizens weighed in against it.

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