Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

Gov. Jan Brewer defied conservatives in and out of her state to veto a measure that would have made it legal for businesses to refuse to serve gay customers.

The bill’s supporters said it would protect the religious freedom of business owners, but the governor said the measure “does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona” and called the proposed law discriminatory.

John McCain, Arizona’s senior senator and best-known Republican, criticized the legislation, as did perennial presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans who pointed out that the measure, if enacted, would have cost the state in numerous ways. The NFL and Apple are just two businesses that hinted there might be repercussions if Arizona instituted a kind of Jim Crow for gay people.

The New York Times:

Even as she deliberated — hour by hour — the state began to lose business: The Hispanic National Bar Association said Wednesday that it had canceled plans to hold its annual convention of 2,000 lawyers here next year, citing the bill and saying in a statement, “It is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice.” The National Football League, which had planned to hold the Super Bowl here next year, started actively exploring its second-choice location, Tampa Bay, in case Ms. Brewer passed the bill, Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday.

Outside the Capitol, protesters gathered in the shade of a palm tree holding signs that read, “Civil rights trump religious wrongs.” Inside, television cameras stood guard by the entrance to the governor’s wing as volunteers from the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights advocacy group, hauled in boxes and boxes of petitions holding 63,000 signatures asking for a veto.

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— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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