Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was right to veto a bill Wednesday that would have allowed business people to refuse service to gay couples, says an evangelical leader who was once caught up in a sex scandal with another man.
Ted Haggard told CNN after Brewer’s announcement that Christians, like everyone else, need to respect others.
“That was a broadly worded bill that had unintended consequences hidden in it that would have developed over the years,” Haggard told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
Haggard was a mega-church pastor and president of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 when it was revealed that he had had a long-term sexual relationship with a male escort. Haggard was preaching and working against gay marriage when the allegations came to light.
Haggard told Burnett on Wednesday that it is “bigotry” for Christians to refuse to serve others based on a moral code.
“We as Christians are here to wash the feet of others and make life better, not to make life worse,” he said.
Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council disagreed. Sprigg told Burnett that current Arizona law doesn’t list gays as a protected class, so the new law would have given them added protections.
Sprigg said the battle won’t be over until the U.S. Supreme Court rules. It will take “a Roe v. Wade of same-sex marriage” before the fight will be over, he said.
Haggard responded, “There will be a Supreme Court decision that will make equality the law of the land.”
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage and pushed the legislation, said Brewer’s veto marked “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”
The bill, she said in a statement, “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.”
Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo, appearing on MSNBC, said the veto of SB1062 showed the will of the majority of Republicans to grant equality to same-sex couples.
Angelo’s group fights for gay rights within the GOP, and he said that even though it was Republicans who passed the bill, he was encouraged that it was vetoed by a Republican and that many powerful members of the party opposed it.
“I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” Republican Sen. John McCain said. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and as sure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful state of Arizona.”
McCain’s colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, thanked Brewer for her veto on Twitter:
Flake said in a later tweet:
Both senators had urged Brewer to veto the legislation.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the pressure on Brewer from big businesses and professional sports leagues is an example of how fundamental freedoms are being trampled.
“You create a stampede by spooking politicians and the public with misinformation,” Perkins said on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File.”
“This is going to continue to be a major problem, and it’s going to spread across the country,” Perkins said. “It’s now going to be incumbent upon Gov. Brewer to say how she’s going to protect the religious freedom of thousands of Arizonians.”
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By Greg Richter