Before it attracted any national attention, advisers to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) offered guidance on the anti-gay legislation that she eventually vetoed at the end of February — a veto that came down even though the bill’s drafters say they made every change that the governor’s office requested.
Capitol Media Services reported Monday on the meetings that Brewer’s advisers, Michael Hunter and Joe Sciarrota, had with the Center for Arizona Policy, which drafted and pushed the bill. They began in January before the legislative session commenced; the bill was introduced Jan. 14.
CAP president Cathi Herrod told the news agency that her organization made every change Brewer’s aides asked for. One of the biggest alterations was a three-pronged test to determine if somebody’s exercise of a religious belief was covered by the proposed law.
“The intent of the meetings… was to thoroughly vet the language, address their concerns, and make changes in the language pursuant to their concerns,” Herrod said.
When Brewer vetoed the bill on Feb. 26, she said it was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
Brewer’s office told the news agency that there were “absolutely” no promises made that the governor would sign the legislation even after her office offered its feedback. Her office also stressed that it was normal for the governor’s office to offer advice on upcoming legislation. Herrod also acknowledged that there were “no guarantees” about the bill being signed.
Gay rights advocates said that the bill would effectively legitimize anti-LGBT discrimination by giving businesses and individuals covered by citing “religious freedom.” Its passage through the state legislature led to a national backlash, with major GOP figures and constituencies urging Brewer to veto it, which she eventually did.
That public outcry — not the bill’s language — is what led to Brewer’s veto, Herrod asserted. “The governor vetoed a bill that didn’t exist,” she said.