By NICK MEYERS
Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 Feb. 25 after much objection to the bill from the public and representatives. The bill would have protected religious business owners from serving any customers who interfered with their “observance” of their religion.
A majority of the public saw this bill as a blatant attempt to legalize infringement on civil rights, particularly those of the LGBT community in Arizona.
Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, responded to the bill by revealing he is gay during a March 5 news conference. He said the bill prompted his decision and now joins Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson, as openly gay officials.
In the wake of SB 1062, however, looms another controversial bill introduced in the interests of religious freedoms.
HB 2481, which is sponsored by many of the same representatives who supported HB 2153 (the bill that eventually became SB 1062), aims to defend public officials from performing same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs.
As with SB 1062, this law would protect individuals from policy that does not yet exist in Arizona state law.
Many representatives who supported SB 1062 said they would not support similar legislation due to the political, social and economic responses to the bill.
SB 1062 bill was introduced and sponsored by Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, and co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, and Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix.
Senators and representatives from both parties openly opposed SB 1062, including some who initially voted for it.
Worsley, along with Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, and Majority Whip Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, who voted for the bill, sent Brewer a letter prior to the veto explaining their mistake.
“We feel it was a solution in search of a problem,” Worsley said in the letter.
The vote was a clear division between parties in the State Senate and opposed by only three Republican representatives in the House: Reps. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson, Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, and Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix.
Worsley also requested a revote, which, with three or more Republican Senators switching their votes, would have killed the bill.
Cathi Harrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative lobbyist organization, wrote the bill. Harrod still believes there is nothing discriminatory about her bill.
“The politics, the outcry against the bill has nothing to do with the actual merits of the bill and the actual language of the bill,” she said in an interview Feb. 25, after the bill was vetoed.
“It is simply a political tactic that has been carrying the day the past few days,” she said.
The Center for Arizona Policy states its goal is to promote “life, marriage and family, and religious liberty,” and is currently lobbying for stricter abortion regulations and expanding scholarship programs.
Yarbrough sponsored a similar legislation in early 2013. The bill, SB 1172, would have allowed individuals to “use potential infringements of religious freedom” as a claim or defense in judicial proceedings. That bill was also vetoed by Brewer.
In an ironic twist, SB 1062 seems to have changed the way representatives view potential legislation. With HB 2148 likely to be voted on within the next week, the public will have a chance to see how representatives’ opinions have changed.