PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's staff worked with proponents of a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays before the legislation was introduced in January, according to emails released by her office.
The meetings between Brewer's legal counsel and policy director came as the Center for Arizona Policy tried to make changes to a bill that was vetoed last year to make it more palatable to the governor. As Senate Bill 1062 made its way through the Legislature last month, it drew fierce opposition from Democrats, gays, civil rights activists and later the business community.
Brewer vetoed the legislation Feb. 26. In a brief statement, she said the bill "could divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever want." She also said the bill was broadly worded and could result in unintended negative consequences.
Brewer's veto came after companies, including Apple Inc. and American Airlines, and even national Republicans including Sen. John McCain urged her to veto the bill, saying it would hurt the state and could alienate businesses looking to expand there.
Emails released by the governor's office showed her staff met with representatives of the Center for Arizona Policy. Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said such talks are routine and never come with a promise the governor will support the final product.
Her staff was most concerned about a provision in last year's legislation that allowed someone to sue before their religious rights were affected and for a "likely" burden on those rights. That provision was removed this year.
Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod blamed the bill's fate on opponents who misrepresented what it does.
"I believe the veto was politics at its worst," Herrod said Monday, "The veto was of a bill that did not exist and the 1062 opponents were able to make the bill about something it was not."
She acknowledged she worked with Brewer's staff on the bill.
"The governor's officer raised several questions about the language, we had thorough discussions about the language and changes were made to the language based on those discussions," she said.
The bill would have shielded businesses whose owners cite sincerely held religious beliefs from being sued for denying service to gays. It would have allowed any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.
Opponents called it a license to discriminate against gays or any other group that might draw a religious objection.
Herrod's group and supporters in the Legislature said the bill was a clarification of the state's existing religious freedom law and would not open the door to discrimination. They argued the law was needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts.
Herrod's group wields great power among Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature. The social conservative group backs conservative Christian legislation and is opposed to gay marriage and abortion.
- SB 1062 opposition begins pushing back
- Lawyer says SB 1062 fight is just beginning
- Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes SB 1062
- CAP President: Veto marks 'tragic day'
- Arizona politicians react to SB 1062 veto
- Council thanks Brewer for SB 1062 veto
- Rob's 5: Big black eyes in Arizona history
- Brewer holds meetings on SB 1062
- Report: NFL may move Super Bowl from AZ
- The basics of SB 1062
- Final Word: AZ out to make a fool of itself?
- AZ senator defends SB 1062 on 'AC360'
- Meghan McCain 'horrified' at SB 1062
- Farmer throws support behind SB 1062
- SB 1062 could affect 2015 Super Bowl
- Group addresses 'misinformation' about bill
- St. James: Should AZ care what others think?
- Karie: SB 1062 Stand Your Ground for bigots
- McMahon: Bon appetit, Arizona
- Foster: 'We reserve the right'
- Senator: 'Lapse' when voting for SB 1062
- Hispanic lawyers pull AZ conference
- Official: Arizona tourism loses with SB 1062
- Expert: Bill won't derail economic recovery
- Valley restaurant takes stand against bill
- Phx business showing SB 1062 disgust
- Go Daddy releases anti-SB 1062 statement
- George Takei rips Arizona over SB 1062
- Apple adds to anti-SB 1062 sentiments
- State treasurer says veto Arizona bill
- Three senators urge veto of SB 1062
- Service refusal bill bad for Ariz. taxpayers
- SB 1062 opponents protest at capitol
- Council urges Brewer to veto SB 1062
- AZ governor hopefuls weigh in on SB 1062
- Religious service bill riles gay supporters
- Dignity Health World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.
Voice For A Better Arizona
- Family in Focus KTAR spends the week taking a look at the issues a modern Arizona family faces.