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Arizona governor vetoes bill allowing businesses to refuse service

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] on Wednesday vetoed [veto letter, PDF] controversial Bill 1062 [materials], which would have permitted state business owners to refuse service to individuals for "religious reasons," and which has largely been denounced by critics as sanctioning discrimination against LGBT individuals. The bill was jointly written by the conservative Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom [advocacy websites], a Christian legal organization, and was approved [JURIST report] by Arizona state lawmakers last week. Brewer wrote in her veto letter to the president of the Arizona state senate that Bill 1062 "does not seek to address a specific and present concern related to Arizona businesses," and also that "the bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences." Brewer's decision has been applauded [press release] by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) [advocacy website].

LGBT rights continues to be a divisive issue, both in the US and abroad, with the primary focus being on the right of same-sex couples to marry [JURIST backgrounder]. Also Wednesday a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] Texas' same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. In January four Arizona same-sex couples filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. In December a federal court declared [JURIST report] Utah's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, and a similar decision was reached [JURIST report] by the New Mexico Supreme Court just a few days prior, following an August order [JURIST report] to New Mexico district court clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In June the US Supreme Court overturned [JURIST report] the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal statute defining marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, and which precluded same-sex couples legally married under state law from receiving federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

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