Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer's Hand

Image: Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer's Hand Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a Super Bowl host committee handover ceremony in New York.

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 11:55 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a religious protection bill concerning gay rights because she was pressured by the state's business community and the National Football League, which is scheduled to hold the Super Bowl in the state next year, political analyst Dick Morris told Newsmax late Wednesday.

"I think she vetoed the bill because of pressure from the Arizona business community," Morris, who served as an aide to President Bill Clinton, told Newsmax in an email. "When Sen. Jeff Flake, a tea party conservative from Arizona, joined his colleague John McCain in urging a veto, it gave her political cover on the right to veto the bill," Morris said.

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"I think the [National Football League] had a lot to do with it also," he said. "By threatening to move the Super Bowl, they epitomized the harm that would flow to Arizona had she signed the bill.

"I don't think she realistically had any choice. It became a jobs issue — and she had to veto the bill."

In vetoing the legislation, Brewer said the controversial measure could "create more problems than it purports to solve."

State Senate Bill 1062 would have allowed business owners to cite their religious beliefs as legal grounds for refusing to serve same-sex couples or any other prospective customer. It was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature last week.

"Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona," Brewer said in a brief statement from her office as she announced her decision. "I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated."

She then attacked the bill as a broadly worded proposal that "could result in unintended and negative consequences."

Brewer had come under mounting pressure to veto the measure after both McCain and Flake, both Republicans, opposed it. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, also spoke against the bill.

Three state Republicans who voted for the bill last week also reversed course and urged Brewer to veto it.

"I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” McCain said in a statement posted on his website. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful State of Arizona.”

Flake said on Twitter:



He added in a later post:



The legislation was backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage.

Cathi Herrod, the group's president, said Brewer's veto marked "a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty."

The bill, she said, "passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith."

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

Perhaps the strongest opposition to the legislation came from business leaders. Some who had opposed it threatened to boycott Arizona if Brewer approved it, similar to what many groups did after the state passed a tough anti-illegal immigration law in 2010.

That possibility worried some companies and business organizations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among the companies opposing the bill were Apple, American Airlines, Marriott International, and Delta Air Lines.

The Arizona Super Bowl Committee also voiced its opposition to the bill, contending that it would “deal a significant blow” to the state's economy, the Times reports.

The 2015 Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, just outside Phoenix.

In addition, the Hispanic National Bar Association said on Wednesday that it would move its 40th annual convention, scheduled for September 2015 in Phoenix, to another city because of the legislation, the Times reported.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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