Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer caved into pressure and "blackmail" from moderate GOP leaders, large corporations, the NFL and gay rights activists when she vetoed a controversial bill allowing business owners the right to refuse service to same-sex couples on the grounds of their religious conviction, critics of the move told Breitbart.
"This really was a media and partisan witch hunt," Professor Gerald Bradley of the University of Notre Dame School of Law told Breitbart. "Brewer caved to nothing less than high-tech blackmail: 'If you sign this bill, we will make you [Arizona] pay."
Sen. Al Melvin, a Republican who is running for governor in Arizona and voted for the bill, said he was disappointed by the veto.
"I am sorry to hear that Governor Brewer has vetoed this bill. I'm sure it was a difficult choice for her, but it is a sad day when protecting liberty is considered controversial," Melvin said.
The Center for Arizona Policy helped write the bill and argued it was needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law. It accused opponents of mischaracterizing the bill and threatening boycotts of Arizona.
"It is truly a disappointing day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can overshadow the truth," said Cathi Herrod, the leader of the group.
Similar religious-protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona's plan is the only one that has been passed by a state legislature. The efforts are stalled in Idaho and Kansas, and was withdrawn in Ohio Wednesday among concerns it would have unintended consequences.
Alliance Defending Freedom's Senior Counsel Doug Napier, which helped draft the Arizona bill, said, "Freedom loses when fear overwhelms facts and a good bill is vetoed. Today's veto enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona."
The state's two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, dozens of small businesses in Arizona and a coalition of 80 large corporations had urged Brewer to overturn the legislation while Major League Baseball and the NFL had also denounced the bill.
The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in Arizona next year, and it could have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars if the NFL pulled out.
The Hispanic National Bar Association had declared that its board
had voted unanimously to pull its annual convention from Phoenix in light of last week's passage of the bill by Republicans in the state legislature.
Gay rights activist Wayne Besen had warned that if Brewer did not veto the measure she would go down in history as "Jan Crow,"
referring to the Jim Crow laws enacting racial segregation. "What this [bill] does is, it gives people the right to justify discrimination," Besen said.
But Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, which has been at the forefront of the national fight to retain marriage as solely between a man and a woman, said, "The Arizona religious liberty bill was a good piece of public policy. But because of constant misrepresentation in the media, a bill that never mentioned gays, lesbians, marriage, or same-sex anything was labeled anti-gay Jim Crow legislation.
"In truth, the bill merely protected religious liberty and took nothing away from anyone. Everyone should be free to live and love as they choose, but no one should demand that government coerce others into celebrating their relationship."
Matthew Franck, executive director of the Princeton University-based Witherspoon Institute told Breibart, "This was a missed opportunity for more secure protection of religious freedom, a defeat brought about by a drumbeat of intolerant hysteria, misinformation, and political cowardice."
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